COLUMBIA — Friday afternoon, the first day of spring, found the village of Rocheport as its usual quiet, idyllic self.
Temperatures in the upper 50s and mildly overcast skies, combined with the natural temperament of the village, made for a sensation of calm. The only sound heard was fall’s leftover brown leaves skittering along Central Street, urged on by the gentle breeze one expects to meet in river towns.
A quick jaunt up Central Street past a bed and breakfast, a general store and a restaurant found a familiar, comforting sight: a father and son shooting hoops together in front of their house.
Todd Shapira and his 11-year-old son, T. J., could have been doing other activities that afternoon. Shapira and his wife stay busy operating their restaurant, Abigail’s, across Central Street from the Shapira household.
Yet, here they were squeezing in a couple rounds of a game called “twenty-one” that they have half concocted the rules for in order to accommodate their court, which consists of Central Street and a board and hoop nailed to the tree in the front yard.
T. J. is exceptionally gregarious — five minutes with him is enough to understand this young man will never suffer for lack of friendship.
“We play (twenty-one) a lot," Todd said. "He’s just an easy, great kid to be around. I love hanging out with him.”
For all of Rocheport’s charms, the best thing boils down to this simple act of love between a father and his son.
Later, after Todd returned to the restaurant, T. J. continued to shoot a couple baskets with a friend, wearing the carefree smile of a boy totally happy and secure in this world.
“It’s real easy to hang out with him," T.J. said of his father. "He’s funny when we hang out. He doesn’t whine and stuff like the girls (referring to his mother and sister)."
“I don’t know if he’s letting me win. I win the first game, him the second and me the third usually," T.J. said.