Suddenly the entire marching band spins and heads straight towards us. I can't believe those people can move so quickly while carrying their instruments, fiercely playing, and high-stepping faster than I can jog. We hurry. They keep coming. We go faster. They bear down on us, a charging cavalry with thundering drums and flashing metal. When they are quite close and the end of the field is still a mile away, I turn, pick up Ernie, and freeze.
We hold each other tight and wait for a sure collision. But the only crash comes from gigantic cymbals. The band stops on a dime, just yards away, with a roar loud enough to frighten Goliath.
The players disperse. The director is yelling instructions. Apparently practice is over, and we had arrived in midstream of their exit from the field. I set Ernie down on the pavement. We're both wearing huge grins. "Well," I think to myself. "I wanted to get closer."
During football season the band practices at the Hill Street field from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Photograph by Seth Lower