Spring’s Unwelcome Guest

I love Spring. It is my favorite season. Plus, it always arrives after a bleak Winter of grey days and the ever present possibility of snow combined with its evil relative, Black Ice. Spring, for me, begins when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. The fact that that event comes in mid-February does not lessen the joy of its arrival.

But a few days ago I experienced another event that definitely signifies Spring’s arrival for me. I saw the season’s first bug. He looked like this:

1000#1

He is ugly. No, wait. He is worse than that. He is oogly. He is the dreaded Thousand Legger. And calling him a centipede does not improve his appearance. Plus, I know he will soon be followed by his friends: water bugs, cockroaches, spiders, flies, mosquitoes, and worms. Every Winter, I forget that these creatures exist. (When was the last time you saw a thousand legger in the snow?) They must be like bears. Bugs probably hibernate during the cold weather and appear fully grown and hideous with the first sunny days of Spring.

They are unwanted guests who overstay their welcome. In the cold months, they are out of sight and out of mind. Unfortunately, that means their appearance always comes as an obscene shock to unexpectant humans. And they have a second act. No matter the day or date of their arrival, the night following their appearance, I dream of them. And they look like this:

1Mlooksbig

There is only one saving grace that accompanies them: every other bug looks tiny and innocent in comparison. The true horror of a (I hate to even say it) thousand legger dwarfs every other bug that follows it. For example, this creature:

mosquito

A mosquito is nothing at all compared to its truly evil relative. Mosquitoes can be avoided by using a spray (I’m told). Thousand leggers arrive unannounced and sprays are useless against them.

Baseball arrives with the sound of a hard ball exploding into a catcher’s glove. But it is inevitably followed by the creature of my nightmares. So it is with a combination of pleasure and dread I must say: Hello Spring.

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About rcarmean

Two things... First, why have I decided to establish this blog? I like to put essays together. I research an idea or topic looking for information, statistics, stories, quotes, pictures, etc. I enjoy the process and seeing a finished product. I’m told that as I get older, new activities can help maintain energy and keep my brain alert. In other words, I am not doing this for money or fame. Second, regarding the gentleman in the collage of pictures above...it's not me. Those are photos of Christy Mathewson. Why him? When I was young, my primary activity was being sick. It took up much of my time. Eczema (a case so bad I was written up in a medical journal showing doctors what their patients COULD look like), asthma, and allergies. You know allergies: don’t eat this, don’t wear that, and, for Heaven’s sake, don’t touch any of these things (eg, dogs, cats, horses --I only saw horses in cowboy movies and TV shows, dust, swimming pools, my brother --OK, that’s an exaggeration, Rick was a fine brother). In my spare time between doctors' appointments, pills, and ointments, baseball kept me sane. In the 1940s and 1950s, when I grew up, pro footballI and basketball had not yet become extremely popular. Baseball truly was “the national pastime.” I listened to games on the radio (remember it? TV without the picture). I read magazines, books, and newspaper accounts of games. I collected baseball cards. I learned about the game’s history, as well as present. The same with its stars. One man stood out: Christy Mathewson. He was a great pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 20th century. But there was much more to him. At a time when professional athletes made little money (yes, there was such a time) and ball players were considered on the same level as actors, artists, and prostitutes, Mathewson stood out. One of his nicknames was: “The Christian Gentleman.” Most men is baseball drank, smoked, cursed, and fought —with other players, umpires, and fans. The fights were physical, not just verbal. Mathewson did none of these things. But he earned the respect of other players who did them all. Even Ty Cobb and John McGraw. There’s more. He was a college graduate (Bucknell University) when most men were lucky to have a high school diploma. He played other sports, including pro football which you wouldn’t recognize. He was handsome. He played in New York City, then as now, the largest city in the country. Excellence and popularity there meant fame and money. He dressed well. Today, his commercials would rival LeBron’s. And, finally, a hero’s life must have tragedy. After his playing career ended, WWI arrived. He suffered from influenza and was exposed to mustard gas. Chemical warfare. His lungs were damaged and he required treatment for the rest of his life. (Like my Grandfather who also fought in The Great War.) He died in 1925. He was 45 years old. I have his picture here because you need to know more about him than me. He was what an athlete could be. Players like him and their accomplishments got me through a sickly, painful childhood and can still sustain me in difficult times. *****
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