I’m not saying that simply because Pennsylvania’s most famous prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted an early spring — and before you start, I know Ohio has their own rodent, but I’m a Pennsylvania man.
I have a far more proven method for noting the change of seasons. Pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring training, and the rest of the team isn’t far behind.
As a Phillies fan, that means Clearwater, Florida. Before long, I’ll have baseball on the radio and television again, and even though they are meaningless spring training games, they will be water for my parched winter soul.
My mother had no time for sports, but even her heart leapt a little when I’d announce the equipment truck had left Philly for the trip down I-95. She could finally see an end to her long winter of discontent, and believe me, winter left her severely discontented.
More recently, the opening of spring training coincides with a trip back to the place where I grew up so Dad and I can go to the Philadelphia Auto Show. This year was no different, though it will likely be the last time, as Dad is planning to sell the old homestead and head south for the warmth.
In addition to looking at the 2020 auto lineup, the trip into the city provides a few other flavors of the city, including a ride in on the regional rail system, and breakfast at the famous Reading Terminal Market.
Walking around that city and riding the train in always brings back a flood of memories, both of visits to my grandparents as a kid and of one of my early jobs for a publisher located just off Independence Mall.
Even though much has changed, the trip home always bombards me with its feeling of familiarity — the sights, sounds and taste of home — even though I haven’t lived in that house for almost 30 years. It will be a strange feeling knowing it is no longer up there for me to take a quick step back into time.
But I was talking about spring, and another sign it’s just around the corner — last week I was able to break out the sticks for the first time in 2020 — twice!
Monday provided an abnormally spring-like day with temperatures in the upper 50s/lower 60s, and my significant and I escaped for the afternoon to a local golf course’s driving range to split a bucket of balls.
Then, while in Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to squeeze in a quick nine with two of my oldest and closest friends. We may have pushed the season a bit — temps were in the low 40s — but the sun was shining, we were laughing and we didn’t notice the chill one bit as we chased the little white ball.
I know many people would look at people bundled up in cold weather gear on a golf course in the beginning of February and think, “those guys are nuts.”
Maybe they are right. If I weren’t out there, maybe I’d be one of them. But as my buddy pointed out, growing older, with our lives are changing and pulling us in different directions, we have less bringing us back home.
Opportunities like that shouldn’t be squandered.