I resigned myself to my role as parent volunteer. After all, I realize you have a relatively short window of time when your child actually wants you to come to their school so it’s best not to let those opportunities pass you by.

Are they really going to do this today?

That’s what I wondered as I tried to hold an umbrella over another Hedge School parent while he tightened the bolts on the backboard of the basketball hoops we were setting up. I thought the question was a good one, and one I did ask it earlier in the morning before dropping my son, Christopher off at school. 

“Field day” is still on,” the school secretary informed me, eliciting a cheer from Christopher whose field trip had been postponed earlier in the week due to rain. A cancellation of field day would add injury to insult.

I resigned myself to my role as parent volunteer. After all, I realize you have a relatively short window of time when your child actually wants you to come to their school so it’s best not to let those opportunities pass you by.

“The weather map shows it’s clearing out over Plymouth,” Principal Kane informed the parents who were signing up to run the various athletic events students would take part in, apparently rain or shine. 

“Which weather maps are they looking at?” some of us joked as we gazed out the auditorium windows into the gloom.

I recall the field days of my youth fondly, and I’m sure they weren’t all brilliantly sunny, hot summer afternoons, but I remember them that way. It’s interesting how much revision your personal history can undergo in 30 years.

I was transported back to the ‘70s when the music started up on the PA system, indicating that after a 45-minute rain delay we were off to the races – literally. I remember marching out onto the fields of my elementary school to stirring patriotic music on field day. On Friday we headed outdoors to the haunting lyrics of Gordon Lightfoot’s “The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” 

How appropriate, I thought. It was the perfect musical accompaniment for the misty shroud that clung to the soccer field. Listening to the song, my mind started to wander on my way to the blacktop area across from the playground. 

The big lake they call Gitche Gumee?

Sounds more like something you’d say to a baby, than a name for a Great Lake, I mused.

Back at the basketball shooting competition, we parent volunteers awaited our first group of red, blue, green and yellow teams, which turned out to be my son’s. Clad in his Kevin Garnett jersey as a proud member of the green team, Christopher was thrilled to see I had volunteered for the basketball event.   Earlier in the morning he had shared the good news about the Celts’ game 1 win over the Lakers in his Celtics report, and he was stoked to shoot some hoops.

During the down time at our station when we had no teams facing off, I wandered around the event field which included activities like hockey, hula hooping until you drop, and the always popular Hippity Hop race. 

“This really takes me back,” I said to any parent volunteer, teacher or student who would listen. 

“I had a Donald Duck Hippity Hop,” I eagerly recalled. “It was blue. I loved that thing.” 

“That’s great, Mom,” replied my son, who had a look of consternation on his face. Apparently he hadn’t fared as well in his leg of the Hippity Hop relay.

“There’s no crying in Hippity Hop racing,” I reminded him. 

“Field day is all about F-U-N, right?” his teacher added.

At lunch — which featured hot dogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers expertly grilled up by Principal Kane — I shared my Oreo cookies and a damp picnic bench with my son, and his classmates, who congratulated themselves on their great teamwork. They relived some of the morning event highlights — including three lucky bounces in the water balloon toss, followed by a thorough soaking of the unfortunate green team member on the other end of Christopher’s throw.

But the soggy teammates weren’t complaining about their wet shirts, the wet fields or the chill in the air. They were just having a field day on field day. The Popsicles and watermelon slices it turns out, tasted just as sweet on a cloudy afternoon.

My cell phone, which had served as a stopwatch for the basketball shoot, was called into action as a camera as lunch wrapped up and the students spontaneously formed a massive group atop one of the play structures. They were all beaming from ear to ear, as was I.  

The simple joys of field day 2008 were no different from those remembered from field day 1978, I concluded. The spirit of the day, the excitement and exuberance on the children’s faces, is a constant through time and through all kinds of weather. Field day is a seemingly endless recess, at the end of another school year, with the sweet anticipation of summer vacation right on its heels.

Makes me wish I still had that Donald Duck Hippity Hop. Sign me up for field day 2009.

Alice Coyle is the managing editor of GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham, Mass. Office. She can be reached at acoyle@cnc.com.