Punxsutawney Phil has spoken, and this year, he declareth unto us that spring will arrive early. YAY!!
Whatever, Phil. Look - you're fuzzy and cute, and I'm sure your hometown is adorable. I also have no doubt that February 2nd is blast for those who come to eat, drink, dance and freeze in the predawn Pennsylvania frost, awaiting your man-made "prognostication."
We all know you're a fraud. I've watched on TV as you allegedly saw your shadow in the pouring rain - twice. Come to think of it, shouldn't you see your shadow every single year, what with all those bright lights on you? Still, you're cute and the whole thing is fun and harmless. Plus, most of us will take whatever hope we can from your prediction of a quick end to winter.
I have to admit, I have my own traditional harbinger of spring. I share it with millions. It's coming next week, starting on February 12th, and while it doesn't have anything to say about when or how spring will arrive (early vs. late, wild vs. mild etc.), it does declare that the wheels are in motion and the change of seasons will happen. It comes in the form of four simple, magical words.
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT
As in, pitchers and catchers report for spring training. One does not have to give a tenth of a hoot about baseball in order to appreciate this late-winter milestone for its implications beyond "dur, sports." Having lived my whole four (ahem - and a half) decades in the DC suburbs, with three years in Baltimore thrown in for good measure, I have LOTS of practice in appreciating these words for their non-baseball message. For much of my life the baseball implication was simply, "Here comes another miserable season for the Orioles [and more recently, the Nationals]." So it was natural for me to focus on the underlying "Here comes SPRING!" message and nothing more.
This year, for the first time in many, many years, I can look forward not just to spring and its blessed warmth - and energy and salt-free roads and flowers and green stuff and the shortening of the skirts and sleeves and the lengthening of the days and the outdoor cooking etc. - but also to the baseball season.
My Nationals are considered a top contender for the first time in franchise history, and my over-performing secondary team, the O's, should at least be competitive again, this season. I'm not accustomed to this feeling. I don't dread an interminable season of losing. I'm excited for these guys, and looking forward to getting to the ballpark.
So this year, I can add "Pitchers and catchers report" to what that furry little rodent said, and it's like the perfect storm of HOPE.