28 January 2014

Pitchers, Catchers and the smell of barbecue

On this coldest date of the year, two observations.

1) I stepped off the bus this morning in -17 temps. Was hit by the smell of barbecue coming from who knows where and immediately felt 100 degrees warmer.
2) Pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks. Kudos to the Arizona Diamondbacks for reporting the earliest of all, Feb 6th, followed by the Dodgers on the 8th and the Cardinals on the 12th. Everyone else in the National League is still sleeping in on those days and show up sometime around the 14th. It will still be cold here, but somewhere there is the whizz of a pitch, the smack to the glove and the crack of a bat that all sound like spring around here.  

27 January 2014

Sub zero dreams

"It's a little chilly out there", is a much-heard phrase in the winter. Minnesotans have a way of not admitting its really cold. But when it slips to double-digits below zero, we finally throw in the towel and confess that just like the rest of the country, we're cold. It may have taken us longer to get there, but we are shivering. School is closed today, and we are secretly a bit ashamed.

I stand in my living room and look out the window. My smoker has snow piled around it from earlier days spent shoveling snow on the patio. I have since given up on keeping it clear. My trusty Weber grille has a nice round mound of snow on the cover. A container of lighter fluid is nestled in the snow nearby, a silent sentry in the barbecue army.

Looking toward the woods there is not a single sign of life. No birds. No squirrels. No red tailed fox hunting mice under the snow. As I drink a cup of coffee I am the only thing moving as far as I can see. 

My deck gives a loud pop, as it does when we get below zero. Like I need a reminder of how cold it is out there. Looking across the lake it is hard to imagine that in a few months there will be boats and water skis and canoes. First will come a hardy canoe or two. Soon after the docks will begin to appear, mysterious fingers coming up from the soil and stretching out into the water.

But for now, on days of minus this or minus that, we simply look out the window, taking a little solace from the fact that the sun is now out at 5pm and that wondrous rotation of the earth is turning toward summer. Mr. Winter is at his strongest this week. But he is getting old. Soon he'll glance to the north and take a tiny step in retreat.

01 January 2014