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Soup of This Day #206: Now You’re At Home

July 2, 2012

Red Tingle, Eucalytus jacksonii
Looking through a natural window in 1 Red Tingle, Eucalyptus jacksonii, to another. This rather fussy Eucalyptus species can be found only in a few small pockets near to Walpole in the south west of Western Australia. For a great view of these particular leviathans you can traverse the raised walkway that is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk located in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. Or, if heights ain’t your thing, you can trundle at ground level around the boardwalk that winds between, and sometimes through, the majestically buttressed trunks, pausing occasionally to strain your neck skywards, up to 75m towards the crowns. That’s roughly 6.6 Green Monsters high – Photo: Longworth72, 2010. Longworth72 is affiliated with Longworth72 for most of the time. Image cropped by Longworth72.

When I was young and I lived with Mum, Dad and Brother of Longworth72 in Beverley I had this bedtime ritual. I used to go out into the back-yard right before I called it quits for that day. I’d stand out on the path to the washing line and facing to the west I’d stare up into the night sky.

Part of it was about checking out the Universe, trying to grasp the magnitude of it all. There was another aspect to it though – I’d cup my hands together to make a window and then I’d look through that portal at discrete sections of the sky. In actuality each scene contained more than just the heavens – It usually had part of a tree edging into it as well. The foliage was the key – It turned a piece of night sky in rural Western Australia into somewhere else.

It’s a big, wonderful world and I wanted to see it, to live in it.

If the interloping leaves were the top of a pine then I could be in Scandinavia – This delusion admittedly worked best in winter – 35°c nights not being common in the fjords. The almond tree was brilliant for a Mediterranean kind of thing – Maybe Italy or Greece, perhaps Malta; while the poplar suggested western Europe, France or Belgium.

My favourite destination though was via the top of a Cape Lilac tree, which bizarrely took me all the way to San Francisco, California.

This geographical logic is a little discombobulating – The Cape Lilac, Melia azedarach, is a tree found natively from South East Asia through to northern Australia. Pretty much everywhere else, including our yard in Beverley, it’s an invasive pest. It was a welcome intruder for Longworth72 and brother though – It made for a great climbing tree and it produced these firm, pea-sized fruit in substantial quantities – You could gain height for protection and then ditch weapons-grade berries at opponents.

Even if not endemic to the Bay Area the Cape Lilac tallied well with my vision of California in general. In my mind the Golden State looked like what you saw in Spielberg’s ET – verdant forest and uncluttered housing estates. I wanted to live there – To further this dream I even kept a watch set to Pacific Standard Time.

For 2 years.

Anyone want to guess how hard it is to judge time when you’re permanently 16 hours behind the local TV guide? To my credit I wasn’t enough of a nut to adjust for Pacific Daylight Time.

And they had baseball in San Francisco. Sure it wasn’t the Red Sox – Interleague play wasn’t in then and the Giants are a National League (NL) team so there was very little opportunity for cross-over. But still, I had this dream of seeing the Sox play at Candlestick Park.

Candlestick Park. Say it out loud – Tell me it doesn’t have the ring of authenticity to it. The place is named after a device for shining a light. Quaintly. There’s romance in that name I tell you, romance and the smell of grass and the sound of a bat hitting a ball all the way out into the bay, where it’d plop gently into the crystaline waters next to Otis Redding as he whistled away.

And yes, I know Otis is dead and was before that song got released.

Candlestick Park – It’s a great name for a ballpark.

Unlike say, Safeco Field.

Safeco is an insurance company. They have the naming rights for the home stadium of Seattle’s Mariners. Now Safeco might well be a wonderful company, that rare beast that is a caring insurance giant, but in terms of having a cool name, well, they don’t. Their moniker bespeaks caution and care, a risk-free approach to life – They project as a safe company.

Which is very literal and I’m sure of great comfort to their stakeholders but as the name for a ballpark it’s a little too staid – Safeco Field is the place you’d go to if you’re the kind of person who insists on using an LED torch in place of candles for a romantic dinner because you’re worried the tablecloth might catch fire.

Which is contradictory because by all accounts Safeco Field is a pretty decent place to watch baseball. The stadium was built in the late 90’s with retro features underpinned by modern amenities. There’s a retractable roof that helps to alleviate lost days from that ridiculous Seattle rainfall. There’s also real grass and instead of being surrounded by a barren carpark wasteland Safeco Field is smack in the middle of an urban area, surrounded by people who are busy living their lives. Seattle’s tall buildings and the Space Needle loom in 1 direction while Mount Rainier is in the other. In between the snow-capped mountain and Safeco Field lie verdant forests and spacious housing developments.

Safeco is the park I dreamed of. And it’s in a timezone I’m already adjusted to.

Except that I don’t like watching baseball being played there.

It’s a pitcher’s park you see. Seemingly ridiculously so.

It’s 331 feet to left, 326 feet to right and 405 feet down the middle. Home runs at Fenway are infield pop-outs at Safeco.

Ok, that last bit was a slight exaggeration, but there is a real discrepancy – Fenway is 310 feet to left, 302 feet to right and 389 feet to centre. And the grand old Boston ball park has an unplanned asynchronicity – If you go deep to right you need to travel 420 feet, not to mention there’s that 37 foot tall green wall in left field. The whole at Fenway is akin to a lovably eccentric uncle or aunt.

I’m not sure what relative best represents Safeco Field’s wide open spaces. All I know is that they’re the kind you go to play catch with and they stand about 20 feet further than you can throw.

The Red Sox finished up a 4 game stand at Safeco this morning. They lost Game 1 by a solitary run, which was 1 more than they managed under the beguiling influence of King Felix Hernandez.

Game 2 saw veteran righty Aaron Cook pitch a masterclass in efficiency for the Sox. He rode his sinker to an 81-pitch complete game shut-out. He gave up just 2 hits, while facing 1 more than the minimum 27 bats. On offence the Sox blatted 4 home runs over the fence for a 5-0 triumph.

Game 3 saw a return to tight scoring as the 2 outfits went through 9 complete innings locked at 2-2. They were separated by a sac fly in the bottom of the 11th as Seattle edged it 3-2.

Game 4 was more on a theme. And the theme was around not scoring much. Seattle led 1-0 until the 8th when Dustin Pedroia went long to tie it. Extra innings were required yet again and just as in the night before a sac fly was the difference. This time though it was the Sox who took the triumph and in splitting the series via the bat of David Ortiz in the 10th they achieved a 1st – They had lost all 5 of this season’s previous extra-innings battles.

Fare thee well Safeco Field and citizen’s of Seattle. It’s the Oakland Coliseum next up for the Red Sox and that takes us back to the Bay Area and my childhood dreams…

When I went out back each night to dream of the places I wanted to be I rarely turned around and looked to the east. In that direction there was a sheep paddock, lined on the far side with tall Eucalyptus, Gum Trees in the vernacular.

Of the more than 700 species of Eucalyptus, only 15 occur naturally outside of Australia, being found nearby in South East Asia. Only 9 of those Eucalyptus can not be found growing naturally in Australia.

So I never turned around because those Eucalyptus trees among the sheep would have only taken me to where I already was – Home – And home was not enough for me.

But like a lot of plants in this increasingly small world Eucalyptus have journeyed around the world and found new places to grow. 1 of the most common destinations is a place where Eucalyptus forests can now be found in proliferation?


Thanks for @#$%ing that up for me guys – Turns out I was looking the wrong way all along.

Now You’re At Home

  1. Candlestick Park > Safeco Field by a mile in every way. Fond memories of watching games at “The Stick.” It seemed like the Phillies went out there every July and each year we’d be treated to the sight of people dressed like Eskimos drinking hot chocolate, wind blowing balls from one side of the field to the other, etc. And you could easily see folks were not that far removed from “sitting on the dock of the bay.” I don’t know what the folks in Seattle were thinking. Then again, their NFL stadium is a bit on the quirky side as well.

    • I’m actually quite happy to read something positive about Candlestick – Most of what I read decried it as too windy and a mistake from the get-go – I’d prefer to think of it as a flawed but ultimately loveable ballpark.

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