Here’s to nature in bloom

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The magnolia tree // With its purple-pink splendor // Won’t last long enough

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Winter dies on Opening Day

BatThis has been the worst winter I can remember. We’ve had snow, cold, ice, more snow,  more cold, and still even more snow. Some days it felt like it was never going to go away.

Spring officially started a few days ago, but today was the first day that it really felt like spring. And tomorrow is Opening Day.

It’s good to finally be rid of winter, once and for all.

On Springtime, old guys and losing

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Today is the first day of Spring, and of all the years I’ve been on this earth, I’ve never paid attention to the change of seasons as I did today. Winter 2013-2014 has been a terrible burden to bear, and now it’s over. It can, and probably still will, get cold and bring some more snow and ice. Bring it on, I say, because Winter is now done. It’s over. Gone. Hasta la vista, Winter.

On this first day of Spring, I had two baseball-themed pieces published online. The first one appeared on WrigleyvilleNation, and it chronicled the losing ways of the Cubs and the White Sox, going all the way back to 1901. It was published this morning, when Winter was in its final few hours.

The second piece was published at midday, and it appeared just as Spring was showing Winter the door. It’s fitting that a baseball piece ushered in Springtime, at least to me. Hockey is a Winter sport, and so is basketball, and even football to a certain extent. But baseball is anathema to Winter. Baseball and Winter cannot co-exist with each other, and that’s part of the reason why it’s so grand. Hello Baseball, and good-bye Winter. That’s exactly what we need after these past few months.

The Springtime piece appeared on ThroughTheFenceBaseball, and it listed the remaining major leaguers who were born in the 1970s. They’re an ever-shrinking group, and I started something I’m calling That 70s Project to chronicle–in a way I don’t think anyone ever has–the disappearance of this group from the majors. More pieces in this vein will come, but everything has to begin somewhere.

I’m glad that Winter is gone, and Spring has finally arrived. It was a hard winter, that’s for certain.

Keeping Winter at bay

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Today is the birthday of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who is best known for The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, but who also wrote the following couplet:

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks

And all the sweet serenity of books

There’s another cold day outside, here in Chicago. Keeping warm is essential this winter, more so than any other that I can remember. But Spring is on its way, and that makes today’s chill more tolerable.

I won’t have such a nice book collection available as the one shown above, but I wanted to share the image anyway. It’s the sort of image where you can imagine a comfortable chair, and a crackling fire, and a mug of hot chocolate. A dog is curled up in a chair, and the creative legacy of years and centuries gone by awaits.

February rages on outside, but inside it’s just as cozy as can be. And Spring is only getting nearer.

A teabag wrapper haiku

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I’ve been drinking tea lately, as I wean myself off of a long-term coffee habit. And when I drink tea at work, I undo the tea envelope so as to leave the paper intact. And today, I took the white space and the baseball on my coffee-turned-tea mug as a form of inspiration.

I really enjoy the challenge of writing haiku. The 5/7/5 structure forces decisions to be made. It’s like the 140 character limit on Twitter, but with syllables.

After a bit of tinkering, I had succeeded in filling the space and giving myself some hope for the arrival of Spring. And that’s not such a bad accoutrement to go with a hot mug of tea, either.

The text of the haiku reads as follows:

The snow is melting
Winter could be over soon
Is Spring almost here?

Spring at last

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This may have been the strangest winter I’ve ever experienced. There was literally no snow at all–with the exception of the Christmas day miracle–from the end of Fall up until early February. Then the groundhog predicted an early spring, and it all went wrong. We had snow, ice, rain, and varying degrees of mixtures between them, and then came the floods. It was rain like I’ve never seen before. In fact, the wettest April in Chicago’s history ends in about four hours, and I won’t miss it a bit. Let’s hope that Spring will stick around for awhile.

The magnolia tree in my backyard is finally in bloom, about three weeks behind schedule. It’s lovely and it smells great, but by the weekend it will all be gone. I’ve written about that process before, too. Like life itself, a blooming magnolia is a wonderful thing, though doesn’t last as long as it should. It may as well be enjoyed, then.

Here’s hoping that May can make up for the past three months of Winter.

They won’t look like this for long

I have a magnolia tree in my backyard, and this year’s exceedingly warm weather in March brought out the flowering blooms at least a month ahead of schedule. Since I wasn’t writing this blog yet when last year’s blooms came out, this is my first chance to reflect on them here.

A magnolia petal is a color unlike any other that I’ve ever seen. It’s a pinkish/purplish series of streaks, as shown in the picture above. And when they fall from the tree, it can seem like snow because there’s so many of them, but with a nice bit of color added in.

I have a brick patio in my backyard, so I get the pleasure–at least I tell myself that’s what it is–of sweeping up and disposing of the petals. If it isn’t done soon after they fall from the tree, they turn brown and ugly, like thousands of little bacon strips without any bacon smell or taste. They can go from quite beautiful to really ugly in just a few days.

Such is nature; such is life. Enjoy what you can, because it will all change into something else soon enough.