When I drive toward the thicket, my car, like a horse headed for the barn, veers toward the home of Uncle Mort and Aunt Maude. They live in the deepest part, right next to the swamp.

Their setting is as rural as it gets. No one passes their house going to town.

I typically stop by to say “hello,” partly out of obligation and partly out of curiosity.

This day, Maude was putting new elastic in Mort’s black arm bands—the ones she made for him years ago when he wanted to wear his sadness on his sleeves.

“I just wish heâd quit wearing them to the general store,” Maude said. “Guys there keep snappinâ pokin’ fun at a guy who takes sports far too seriously.”

Mort, she said, is in post-season mourning for the Dallas Mavericks, and early-season sadness for the Texas Rangers.

For Mort, the arm bands signify a heart at half-mast.

I dreaded hearing his harangues, but I would have never heard the end of it if I left without at least a “howdy” to my old uncle.

She directed me out back, where Mort was fiddling with his golf cart.

Had things been going well, Mort would have bragged on a flour sack half-full of crawdads. He would have joked that the crawly creatures are suckers for raw bacon. And how they don’t notice the kite string that will lift them from the shallows.

On previous occasions, he would have licked his lips, talking about what wonderful gumbo Maude would offer for lunch. Then, he would abruptly change the subject, saying “If I think about gumbo, my mouth starts watering, and I donât want to dilute it none.”

This time, he started talking straight way about the Mavericks and Rangers. He asked me if I knew what deposed NBA Official Joey Crawford and the Mavericks have in common.

“Their seasons both ended earlier than expected,” Mort snorted, managing a crease of a grin. (Crawford’s ejection of San Antonio’s Tim Duncan in a late-season game didn’t set well with NBA brass, who sent him to “time out.”

The top-seeded Mavs failed to impress eighth-seeded Golden State, who sent them Most of the conversations will be at the Little League field a few miles away. There, kids play for free, are loyal to their teams and feel fully rewarded, win or lose, if they get snow cones at the end of the game.

“There’s much to be said for amateur sports,” Mort asserts.

He told about stories heard at the ball park a night earlier.

“Us grandparents talked about unlikely names for churches,” my uncle said.

“One mentioned Little Hope Baptist Churchâ in East Texas, and another spoke of Halfway Baptist Church,â equidistant between Plainview and Olton.”

A grandma stayed on the church theme. Her five-year-old grandson overheard a conversation about

“pounding the preacher.”

She explained that church members take staples like flour, sugar and corn meal—food stuff measured in pounds—to welcome the new parson and his family to the parsonage.

Her grandson was present for the preacher’s first sermon, and was not impressed. Breaking silence on the way home, the youngster observed, “Maybe a pouncingâ would have been enough.”

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes comments and inquiries. Send emails to: newbury@speakerdoc.com Phone: 817-447-3872. His website: www.speakerdoc.com