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Jon Mark Beilue column - Posted February 20, 2015 9:11 a.m.
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artwork by Andy Chase Cundiff

Apology to winter, spring is much worse

Old Man Winter, I owe you an apology. Oh, I’ve despised you more often than not. I don’t like your short days, your gray skies, your ice on the windshield, your dangerous slick roads, your snow drifts, and cold and flu season.

But, you know what, Old Man Winter, you are what you are. You’ve never tried to be anything you weren’t. You’ve never tried to put on airs, or felt the need to hire a PR firm to sell your season as anything but a tough, cold go of things.

I’ve been critical of you and ripped into you on more than one occasion, but I’ve come to respect you, grudgingly respect you, for your honesty and truthfulness. Unless it’s Christmas, you don’t hide behind some fake, feel-good message.

Shakespeare called you “the winter of our discontent.” John Logan compared you to sorrow: “Thou hast no sorrow in thy song, no winter in thy year.”

But you take all the barbs and criticisms thrown your way. You’re a man, Old Man Winter, and, for that, I’m sorry for the many hateful things I’ve said over the years even though I’m still not real crazy about you.

Spring, on the other hand, is sneaky. We’re reaching the end of February and heading into March, and, thus spring, our alleged spring. I don’t like spring.

Actually, I would like it if we really truly had a spring. But we don’t. We just have rumors of spring. Our springs in the Texas Panhandle are based on what the calendar tells us should be happening, not what outside is telling us actually is happening.

Our spring weather is a beating. In fact, is it possible once we hit early March to just fast forward to June? Because what occurs in between is more times than not just brutal.

Think of spring and it’s the usual suspects: 65-degree weather, flowers blooming, trees budding. It’s children running through meadows and the world awakening to weeks of green beauty after a winter of hibernation.

Yeah, I think I read that once in a book. As far as actually experiencing it here, not really. Although to be fair, I’ve only been around for about 50 of these alleged Panhandle springs.

We get a few days of spring weather and that’s about it. When we do get a rare spring day, we run outside like kindergartners at recess, jumping up and down and running into each other because we can’t believe our good fortune.

That’s because we know it won’t last, that the next cold blast or wildfire warning is just over the horizon. Spring, as it’s constructed in these parts, is a survival course.

I’ve got photos in albums of me as a kid and later our own kids getting pictures taken outside on what should be a lovely spring Easter morning, our red faces frozen in a fake smile, noses running, fingers stiff.

Spring, more than anything, is just one long, cold wind tunnel. It’s 30 mph winds followed by 40 mph winds – and it’s even worse outside. In the past few years, with dry pastures, it’s an invitation to wildfires from February through May.

I’ve spent countless alleged springs either competing in or, for years, covering spring sports. I’ve seen high jump mats blown onto the track, fans watching a game wrapped in so many clothes and blankets that only their eyes showed, baseball games that were 23-20 where every fly ball was an adventure. These are spring sports, mind you.

Last spring was the worst. Maybe summer rains and winter snow have moistened the earth this year, but in 2014 we had so much wind and blowing dust day after day that when it got really bad it looked like the moon’s surface on some sci-fi movie, or worse, Lubbock.

Spring, or what passes for it, is to be endured, not enjoyed. It’s endured knowing that eventually the summer and wonderful fall will be here.

Oh, yes, unlike Old Man Winter, spring is a tease. Spring is full of promise, but rarely delivers. To use a clichéd analogy, spring is like lipstick on a pig. Might dress it up, but it’s still a pig.

Spring, just admit what you are – a fickle, flirty but ultimately disappointing three months. Until then, I don’t like you. And no apology is forthcoming.

by Jon Mark Beilue

Jon Mark Beilue is an award-winning columnist for AGN Media. He can be reached at jon.beilue@amarillo.com or (806) 345-3318.
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