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A delightful morning.

The plan: to practice boomerang throwing. Over peach pie and a bagel for breakfast, I read up on how to make and construct and throw boomerangs. My sleek, modern, Gel boomerang --a Bellen model--isn't in the book (which itself goes back to 1937) but looking at the beveled edges, and assuming it is a right handed one, I come up with a way to hold it.

A long wait for the 57 means I get to read Mother Jones instead of walking five blocks. Two minutes, if that, on the bus, and it's across the street to Mosswood Park. A man is playing catch with two dogs so I move over toward the baseball diamond.

First, a couple of throws with the cardboard cross. Works well enough that it will come in handy as a camp craft activity. Then, out comes the red and blue airbrushed, varnished Gel Bellen. One throw. Two throws. Is this a non-returning boomerang? Adjust the pitch, the elevation and the boomerang cuts a swift steep arc up and almost back. I throw it again to see if I've got the hold right. Up and turn and drop. Okay. Let's find the wind. What happens if we aim higher? Up and up... and up... and down... and tree branch.


Wouldn't you know it? The Bellen's bell-shaped elbow is the perfect shape to catch and hold on just about any tree branch.

A Snapple bottle--no, it's Gatorade--makes a good projectile to try and knock the Bellen down. Until with one sure, bullet-like throw I shatter the thing on the branch (thankfully I was wearing safety glasses) and totally failing to move the boomerang. After picking up as much of the glass I could find, and disposing of it, I assess the likelihood of my success in retrieving the 'rang by climbing the tree. In Birkenstocks, shorts, and no health insurance, not good. I could go home, put on jeans, tennis shoes, make out a will, and return for the attempt, but even though I'd like the $18 boomerang back, I'm not sure it's worth a 15 foot fall. The trunk will support me, it's just the lack of perpendicular branches to grip and the lack of my tree climbing experience (as well as visions of my slip at the Jones Gulch climbing wall) dissuades me.

Plan B. I head over to Woolworths to purchase a baseball--but as it's only 9:30 a.m. and Woolworths doesn't open until 10:00, it's another chance to read Mother Jones.

Woolworths has Jurassic Park everything, including raptor egg candy and gummi dinosaurs, houseplants, super soaker--Ah ha!--a baseball for $2.50. I have no idea of my proficiency with a baseball except that I don't think it's good. I haven't thrown one since 1982--P.E. freshman year. Back to the park.

I manage to hit the branch, also nearby ones, and also ones nowhere near the boomerang, but the boomerang doesn't do more than pivot gently from its center of gravity. The trick will be to aim past the boomerang, to deliver enough energy to knock it off.... I have no trouble arcing the ball so that it peaks around the branch but it's not enough energy... it's all been turned to PE....

I give it a few more tries. A woman cuts across the park on her way to MacArthur and looks from me up to the tree down to the ball and up to the boomerang. She doesn't say anything, but keeps on her way.

I wonder if I can call Visa and ask them to replace it (since I bought it on plastic) but I realize that they are likely to view the loss of a boomerang due to throwing it a necessary consequence, part of the expected operational parameters, and therefore not covered by insurance.

The question is-- do I go get another one? Same model? (the Gel Bellen is the short range model) If so where do I practice? Same spot? Another 18 bucks. But hey, I'm writing it off as a business expense (for summer camp). Do I go back tonight with the baseball, hoping my arm doesn't cramp? Invite friends to practice their throwing arm? Wait for a wind? Post a "missing boomerang - REWARD" sign at Mosswood Rec Center?

I leave the park, sans boomerang, as I have obligations elsewhere. But a fortuitous bus ride home later that day puts me back in the park some seven hours later.

I approach the tree again. There's my boomerang, still on the branch. I drop my pack and take out the baseball. My shoulder is stiff, and I shrug and roll my shoulders. And I aim and throw. Miss. Retrieve the ball. Aim and throw and miss. Retrieve. Aim and throw and miss and retrieve. Aim and throw and... there's someone cutting across the park, from MacArthur, back toward Broadway. A woman. Actually, the same woman from this morning. She stares at me in disbelief.

"I really want that boomerang down," I say to her, and grin sheepishly, but inside, I'm falling down laughing, because in her mind, I've never left the park all day.

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