I have many childhood memories of growing up in a small town in Massachusetts. Our house was surrounded by others just like it and our yards all adjoined. In the summer, the neighborhood was filled with children who played freely with one another, roaming from backyard to backyard under the watchful eyes of whomever's parents were nearby.
On Saturday afternoons I would often see my father mowing the grass, pushing a gasoline-fueled lawn mower in the summer heat. He would bring a red can of gasoline from the garage, taking care to not splash as he filled the mower's small tank. A pull of the cord to start the engine. Once, twice, and the motor would catch. He'd pace our small yard in neat rows, cutting the lawn frequently enough so that there would be no need for raking or gathering anything left behind. It was like getting a hair cut before anyone would notice you needed a trim.
Before starting the mower my father would string the kitchen radio out to the back porch, a long extension cord trailing behind. He never liked the sound of what were then called transistor radios; my dad was an electrical engineer and he was particular about such things. Especially because the reason for the radio was to listen to the Boston Red Sox, our hometown team.
He'd schedule the mowing to be finished before the game would begin. Nothing could be missed. Not the satisfaction of the clean rows of clipped grass. Not Curt Gowdy announcing each inning. Nor the occasional crack of a bat that even over the radio had an unforgettable sound.
After my father finished his mowing and before listening to his Red Sox, he'd go to the kitchen to get a cold beer. It was always in a can and I think -- although I'm not really sure of this -- that the brand was Miller. He'd pour it into a glass that would immediately frost to look like a piece of pâte de verre. As he'd settle into a porch chair, beer in hand and surveying his just-cut lawn, I never saw him more content.
I once asked my father for a taste of his beer. I was probably seven or eight years old and he handed me his glass. Its bitterness was shocking and the cold foam a confusing surprise. I quickly handed it back to him and didn't taste another for at least a decade.
But to this day, I can only drink beer in the summer, when it must be on a hot Saturday afternoon. And when this proclaimed Yankee fan secretly cheers for the Red Sox.