An Early Spring


Around Philadelphia, this has been an interesting Winter. There was a stretch of time (around three weeks) when the temperature stayed too low for comfort. The highs were in the 20s and the daily lows were single digits, occasionally dropping just below zero. Of course, there have been worse Winters, colder and with more snow than anyone wanted to shovel. And in those times, I needed An Early Spring.

In such situations, rather than wait for the official arrival of my favorite season, I picked an arbitrary date and announced to myself: Spring Will Arrive on that date. Usually, the date was March 15th. For me, Winter began December 15th and ended three months later. I celebrated with a Special Weekend. I chose the end of a cold grey Winter as well as the arrival of an early Spring.

I started with choosing a Friday to take off from work. Maybe it was a Personal Day, a Necessary Day, or a Mental Health day. Thus, I had a 3-day weekend to fill with activities I enjoyed. What did I do?

I could leave Philly and spend the time in NYC, or Boston, or Cape Cod. Each destination was filled with possible activities. But if I stayed where I was, I spent the 72 hours doing a variety of things I enjoyed.

Movies are always high on my list of “do’s.” For example, I would see (at a theater or on cable TV) The Surface of Water, Coco, Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri. A Play in a local theater/in NYC were always a special treat. Yes, Hamilton would be high on my wish list and The Book of Mormon, too. Or I could visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A few years ago, they had an exhibit of Van Gogh paintings. It was wonderful.

Shopping and eating in restaurants need to be included. You might want to look for Antiques. How about a walk or bike ride in a park (or Central Park, in NYC, see above)? Concerts, no matter what as long as it catered to my musical taste. A friend made it a point to get tickets to any Boy Band that was touring in her area –as well as in her memory of an earlier time. How about attending Sports’ events. Baseball, my favorite sport, would only be in Florida and Arizona at this time of year. But Hockey and basketball (pro and college) are in season no matter what I call it. Sports participation by me was a possibility (eg, tennis, golf, bowling; remember when that was THE thing to do?).

Visits to family and friends, especially those I haven’t seen in awhile, are a big plus. Maintaining friendships requires periodic contact, in person or by mail (snail or Email), or Skype. If I or my wife needed a special Gift, then would be a good time to “surprise” each other.

These and other activities you enjoy can easily (if not always inexpensively) add up to three days of enjoyable activities and a way to end one season and give another an early, unique start.

I want to stop this article with the image of a Vatican priest throwing a snowball (see below). Is he just enjoying a late Winter snow storm or is he, like me, saying: “Away with the snow”?



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'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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