All right, baseball season is nearly here. I can hear the crack of the bats and the smack of a baseball screaming into the catcher’s mitt. It won’t be long until cold, dreary and snowy days give way to warm, humid nights. Instead of snowflakes flitting in the streetlights, there will soon be an array of winged insects in the ballpark’s spotlights. The scent of newly fallen snow will eventually be replaced by the smell of freshly popped corn, hot dogs, polish sausages smothered in grilled onions and peppers, along with the stench of spilled beer cascading down the stadium steps. Salt-covered pretzels will take the place of heavily salted streets. Winter gloves, hats and heavy coats will disappear deep within the recesses of our closets for at least six months, while T-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes step up to the plate. “One, two, three strikes you’re out of the old ballpark” will soon drown out the scraping sounds of snowplows burying the entrances to our driveways. Oh spring, that wonderful time of year that signals the death of winter and the rebirth of warm, sunny days and comfortable starlit nights.
The end of winter and the beginning of spring meant many things to me as a child growing up in central Indiana. For one thing, I no longer had to wear two pairs of pants, extra socks, boots or just about anything else that would cover up my exposed skin. I could run in and out of the house without worrying about the furnace kicking on or melting snow soaking my mother’s carpet. Oh, but that was all replaced by sticky, brown mud that had been hiding for several months under the pristine snow. Our mud wasn’t just any normal mud, it was about ninety percent clay and other unidentifiable minerals that did not blend well with our home’s décor. No matter how hard I tried not to, I would continually track in the good earth every time I entered the house. Just off of the kitchen, we had what at that time was referred to as a mud room. Actually, it was where some of our canned goods were stored, along with the pump that brought our well water to the surface. No matter what, most of the mud and dirt would wait to fall off until after I had reached the rest of the house.