OPINION

Outtakes: Time for spring to 'March' on in

Frank Weaver Jr.
Suburbanite correspondent

I've never waited until March 21. To me, spring arrives with the first day of March. Perhaps I may have been a wee bit hard on “Punxsutawney Phil,” the Pennsylvania groundhog. In a recent column I focused on our mid-winter weather prognosticator, questioning his prediction of having six more weeks of cold, winter weather while gawking out his burrow.

That's his usual prediction whenever beams of blinding light or rays of radiant sunshine flood “Gobbler's Knob” from where he emerges. He checks the outside first before making his gloomiest, most depressing forecasts. The sun creates a shadow; Phil's own. He sees it. Scared, he scurries back into his hole for six more weeks of cold and snow.

However, this time the sun got lost on its trip to “Gobbler's Knob.” Not a beam, not a ray, not even a sliver of sunlight was seen poking through the heavily overcast sky. But instead of staying out and announcing to the nation that spring was just around the corner, the furry rodent swiftly scurried back into his hole signifying six more weeks of bitter, cold weather. When I heard it, I, along with most Americans, was abso-tutely-lutely mohhhrrr-ti-fied!

But last week fooled Phil, folks. Conditions, weather-wise, did a 180. On Wednesday the mercury rose to a mild 50 degrees. Three days later, the temperature climbed more, hitting a warmer 54, and then the next day, Sunday, it ushered in balmier breezes with 59 degrees. Sure doesn't sound like winter. Maybe I could try swallowing my pride and admit I just may owe Phil a humble apology?

On one hand, perhaps I might even ask if he could reach deep down into that huge furry heart of his and check if there's any room left in order for him to pass along a little forgiveness.

On the other, if I make it to March, there's a better than average chance I'll make it the rest of the year. At least that's my way of thinking. Don't laugh. I've been through think and thin in this crazy life of mine, mostly thick. Many times I didn't even think I'd ever see the month of March again.

You see, March lifts my spirits. It makes me feel as if I'm alive again waiting for the first purple crocus petals to push their way up through the snow as they reach toward heaven for that warm, bright, ray or two of sunshine.

Those blooming crocuses renew my hope. Then come the daffodils, or as my mother always called them, Easter lilies (probably because they always bloomed around Easter). We kids were always picking daffodils for Mom because we knew it lifted her spirits, too. She would fill empty Mason canning jars with water and set them around the house. By the time Easter arrived we had daffodils in nearly every room.

March renews the gift of hope. It listens to hear what one sleepy bud says to another as it opens its pale green petals to the warm sun of spring. In spite of all the bitter snow and cold we may have had, March warms you as no other month can. It revives your humble spirit.

The third month frees me to turn my attention to the many seed catalogs I've received through the snail-mail and dwell on what to plant. Since I'm a fanatic for good, home-grown, garden tomatoes, I've already decided to go with the world's biggest beefsteak tomato. It bears about 80 tomatoes per plant and each tomato weighs between two and a half and three pounds. I'll also include one smaller plum tomato plant for whenever I'm not so hungry. Planting tomatoes at exactly the right time is crucial to producing a nice tomato crop. That's why I depend so much on “Phil.”

Now if only he knew the difference between sunlight and shadow, I wouldn't lose so many tomatoes.

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com