Ah, yes, folks, after a long, hard winter, the glorious season of spring finally has arrived.

Ah, yes, folks, after a long, hard winter, the glorious season of spring finally has arrived. And with this column being written and published so close to April, I certainly hope that opening sentence is not an April Fool’s joke because like most of you, I am not sure I can take any more winter. I can’t remember the last time that I anxiously awaited the beginning of a new season so much as this year’s spring.

Even though it’s only March, for the past month and a half I’ve basked in the glory of the Cleveland Indians as they prepare for their home opener with spring training victories in warm, sunny Arizona.

For all the worthlessness of the team standings in spring training, being on top of the Cactus League and having the best record in baseball somehow strengthens my hope that our beloved Wahoos will meet and surpass last year’s accomplishments. Spring hope predicts they could even go all the way.

Regardless of the outcome, each televised spring training game, especially if the Tribe prevails, lifts me higher and further away from the depths of winter’s doldrums more than anything I could imagine. Those televised games from the Southwest renew hope in me that warm weather is imminent and rooting for the home team still can result in the joy, glory and exuberance of a long-awaited, late-October celebration.

But spring training isn’t the only thing that elevates my spirit. Two weeks ago, when the ol’ thermometer started lifting its needle toward the 60-degree mark, I felt the urge to start my spring gardening. Indeed, I was about to begin shopping for seeds and tomato plants when the good wife in all her wisdom cautioned me about my penchant for optimistic thinking. She brought me back down to earth when she reminded me of more inclement weather still on the menu.

For all that logic Peggy shared with me, I silently ignored her, preferring to bask in the spirit of optimism. My thoughts quickly ran the gamut from baseball to picnics to fishing. Whether you cast your line into any of the

beautiful, placid waters of the Portage Lakes each day for filets

of delicious cold-water panfish,

or venture north to Lake Erie,

that outdoor activity alone will lift your spirits faster than you can imagine.

After a winter of nearly record-breaking snowfall, being able to safely escape the confines of the house day after day is another reward. Once you step outside, the sight of purple crocuses, golden daffodils and yellow forsythias spread an invisible blanket of warmth across our spirits like none other.

There’s even something good to be said about the warm spring showers that pop up from time to time. As a kid, how many times did you tilt your head back, open your mouth wide and try to catch as many warm spring raindrops on your tongue as possible?

You can’t help but to admit it’s one of the many pleasant and fun, spring memories we share. To be able to do so again could transport us back to our youth, when life was less hurried. These showers not only water and feed our newly planted gardens, but also our souls. To say the very least, they are invigorating. Spring, to me, is food for the spirit.

Then there’s that scent of freshly cut spring grass emanating from the neighbors’ yards while you fish, boat, watch the game on TV or garden. For most of us who live here at the lakes, there’s also that sure sign spring has arrived with the sight of that first launched boat, just after the thick ice melts.

To each of us, any of the five senses have the ability to trigger memories of our youth. Our daughter, Wendy, knew spring was right around the corner each March when she saw Ken Shaffer getting his fruit and vegetable stand at the corner of state Route 619 and S. Main Street ready for opening.

One of the scents that renews my hope of an end to winter is the wafting aroma of an outdoor grill. Whether it’s real, white-hot coals from a barbecue grill or permanent briquettes from a gas grill matters little. Just the smell of chicken or steak cooking on an outdoor grill sends my taste buds aflutter. I’d love nothing more than to walk over and just take charge of that grill. That would most certainly satisfy a penchant I get whenever I smell lit grills.

Yes, to me spring is all that and more. Without a doubt, one of the most important activities of this wonderful season is the picnicking at different parks with my children and grandchildren. That alone plants in me myriad memories that are priceless and just waiting to be recalled.

But with everything I’ve accumulated throughout life that triggers my sense of hope in that spring soon will be here, I’m happy and satisfied with what I’ve retained in my memory bank. So before I write more, I’ll end this column and enjoy the warm spring sunshine. After all, spring began 10 days ago, and the walleye are running in Lake Erie. The baseball season  soon will be underway. Unless I enjoy it, with living here in northeast Ohio, Ol’ Man Winter could very well return before we ever have a chance to say, “Go Tribe.”


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