Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring... Sprang... Sprung...

I alluded, ever so briefly, in my last blog that Spring has sprung in The Hundred Acre Woods By The Inland Sea. This annual miracle of Nature is always a welcome, and much longed for, event. Up here, we have a (not particularly funny) joke that goes along the lines of having four full seasons. Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Road Deconstruction. (told ya it wasn't that funny) And that pretty much sums up our weather calendar.

But now that March is a memory, and we're past Fool's Day, we can consider the season to no longer be Still Winter, and officially Spring. Spring up here is usually mandated by longer days, and more snow. but now, we know that the cold, white stuff won't be around for ever, and the robins will eventually stop wondering just why they came back? But, as every college basketball fan knows, Spring is when March Madness happens.

I won't delve too deeply into the mechanics of basketball, and this really isn't a sports blog (we have ESPN for that). Suffice it to say that March Madness is the college basketball round robin style tournament that crowns a national champion. But to say that's all there is to March Madness is a walloping under statement! Most everybody gets a copy of the draw for round one, and then makes their own predictions to the winning spot. Often a small entry fee is included so that the winner gets most of the cash. But there's just as much excitement to be had for entering an online pool, with your buddies, for talking trash and bragging rights.

Every year I enter two or three of the "bragging rights" variety, and usually lose handsomely. When my late mom was around, she would beat me regularly by picking teams according to mascot, team colors, and other various and highly suspect reasoning. So she handily beat me year in and year out. Which meant that year in and year out, I would owe her dinner at a restaurant of her choosing, and happily she would choose a nice, medium priced place. I think I still her owe a couple dinners, come to think?

This year, March Madness did not really feature an "Upset Round" (when some underdogs beat what was supposed to be a much better team) as an entire tournament of them! At the end of the first weekend, my boards (also known as brackets) were suitable for use as toilet paper.... barely. But watch the games I did, (and this where the real magic happens) found myself cheering for a team that I had picked to lose, but they sure were playing a great game! Point of fact, just about everybody I know did the same thing. It may seem somewhat self defeating to not cheer on "your" team, but hey, that's why they play the games.

And so it went, this year, round after round of continuing upsets. By the time we got to the Final Four (these teams played against each other to go to the National Championship game), I was so certain of impending doom and disaster, that I just didn't look online to see how badly my brackets were suffering. I usually pick one or two of the Final Four, and on rare occasion even get three of them. This year I had none, nada, zip, nuthin. So I mentally shrugged and decided to just enjoy the sports spectacle for what it should be; a showcase of the best talent in college basketball in America. I was quite surprised to learn that I had actually *won* one of the  betting pools! What?! *utter facepalm* It's true! Even tho my boards were completely shredded, everyone else had even worse boards! Well, we all had a good laugh at that, and then turned our collective attention to the National Championship game.

Which turned out to be possibly the worst example of athleticism ever in a National Championship! At the end of the first half, the commentators wryly noted that both teams were shooting under 20% (a number that should be at least two or three times higher), and so it was "a defensive struggle", meaning that neither team could score a basket. Or that the kids certainly "played their hearts out", meaning that it was a very sloppy game, and that this game was an "intense competition" to see who could make more mistakes. In short it was appalling. Towards the end of the game, the sportscasters were no longer sugar coating the lackluster performance by each team, but still tried to put a positive spin on it. Not easily done, I assure you. And in the end, one of the teams just had to win, so it was University of Connecticut (UCONN Huskies).But as bad as that particular game may have been, they still reached for, and got, the brass ring. They kept all the marbles, and really are our National Champions of Men's College Basketball. And that's just the way all those student athletes should remember it too.

So now our snow is *almost* all the way gone, and the yards are starting to green up. We have a Ruffed Grouse that we named Evin (short for Evinrude, because when he flaps his wings against his chest, it sounds like a small motor boat), that proudly announces to any available female that he's here and ready for action. You can see buds at the ends of tree limbs, and the deer are patiently stalking day lilies and other garden delights. There is no more snow in our beach, and Ace the DufusDog has already been in for a swim. Good thing he takes his fur coat along! Sap buckets are sidled up to maple trees for their sugary sap, and the buzzards have returned to Hinckley Ohio.

And I have *finally* shed my articles of Winter Clothing. Namely I am sans my long johns which so ably kept me nice and cozy during those long, bleak, dismal, dark days. And, perhaps even more importantly, I am now sporting just one pair of socks. When I would venture out of doors, I would wear two pairs of socks, and a pair of toe warmers under Antarctic Survival Boots.  To say that my feet get cold would be an understatement comparable to the Titanic nudging a chip of ice. So, you see, it must be Spring, and now that I've shed those wintry woolies, I feel like a UCONN Husky!   

Once again I took the pictures, with the exception of the shot of me watching a game, which was snapped by the lovely Barb...

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