I’ve been a Cubs fan my entire life. Some of my loveliest and earliest memories are of my Grandpa explaining baseball to me. His love for the Cubs is ingrained in my bones—whether it was nature or nurture, my love for the Cubs comes directly from him. He was 11 and 12 years old the two years that the Cubs won the Series, so he knew first hand that winning was possible, and he carried that first-hand knowledge with him through all the years following.
|My Grandpa and me in 1955
The heartbreaking end of the 1969 season was the last Cubs season he’d see to the end—he died in June the following year. Russ and my first year of dating culminated with that ’69 season. Much as I’ve always identified as a Cubs fan, I’ve not been to many games at Wrigley Field, though this was where Russ first told me he loved me, and where after I became a birder I once saw a Peregrine Falcon fly over.
I was never the kind of fan who followed every game, or knew the name and face of every player, not since 1969. But 2016 happened to be the 120th anniversary of my Grandpa’s birth, so in January I decided to follow the Cubs for this entire season, game by game by game. Most of their games weren’t televised on stations we get, and I was out of town for a great many anyway, but I got an app for my iPhone that allowed me to follow each game play by play. Even when I was giving talks on birds, I could peek at my phone to see how my boys were doing—and little by little, they really were becoming my boys—recognizable by their names and faces and all the biographical details I was picking up.
The catcher the players called Grandpa Rossy—the one who just became the oldest baseball player ever to hit a home run in the World Series—is 39 years old, born 5 years after Russ and I were married, so he’s definitely young enough to be my son. And the players in their 20s are easily young enough to be my grandchildren.
I started the season as I always do, saying “this year for sure!” and the ESPN statistical website FiveThirtyEight seemed to agree with me, game after game after game.
The Cubs made it into the postseason, and for the first time since, well, just last year survived the division series, when they beat the Giants. For the first time in 71 years they survived the National League championship, when they beat the Dodgers.
And now at long, long last, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. The Cubs had gone 39,466 days since their last win, and I’d been alive 23,733 of them. Now the clock has been reset after all these years.
Baseball isn’t a very important thing in the overall scheme of the universe. Following the Cubs gave me a lovely respite from politics day after day in this, the worst political season of my life. And knowing the Cubs were doing well was wonderful no matter where I was birding. My week in Cuba was the only time all season that I could not get live updates—a couple of participants who managed to call home that week found out the division final results for me. And now the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series.
It doesn’t seem like a very ornithological achievement, and I know birds don’t give a hoot who won. Or do they? At about 1:15 am Thursday, when I was finally settling down an hour after the win, I took my dog Pip outside, and a Boreal Owl was calling away, right in or just outside my backyard! I’ve had them in my yard before a few of the winters we’ve lived here, but never in November, and never before had I heard one call from here. This one moved about a bit between calls, so I could be certain it was a real bird and not some odd recording—the little guy even got my Archimedes to start calling back. The Cubs finally won the World Series, and apparently nature itself is celebrating.
|I took this Boreal Owl photo in 2013 on, ironically, Super Bowl Sunday (which I can't help but call Superb Owl Sunday).