"It's spring. Everything is new. . .except me."
So spoke one of my college friends at St. Cloud State.
I wrote during the height of winter that maybe we'd be best off hibernating. This past winter seemed to lag like no other. When was the last time we had a true "January thaw?"
Spring can be late in coming but finally it pushes through. The days get longer and the drifts recede even if the temperature seems cold. Those stubborn last drifts are forlorn in their denial about what is happening to them.
There is a signal we can look for, to realize spring is fully here in Morris. It's when you can do the complete "loop" of the bike trail, 4 1/2 miles, and have dry pavement under you the whole time.
Whether biking or walking, there can be nothing more therapeutic.
And now we have the sight of not one but two wind turbines. They are our grand sentinels.
People pull on their summer clothing even with a little winter fat bulging out here and there. There is risk of getting sunburn the first time the temperature is truly warm. People smile at the thought of sunburn (a little) now.
The time is near to bathe ourselves in the great outdoors. The hibernation is over. Lately I have been out jogging a few times. It's fun to shoot a wave at others doing the same.
It seems to be more important than ever to maintain good health. Republican politicians are talking about how we ought to get vouchers to purchase private health insurance. I have read that this is a great system as long as you don't get sick.
Well I'm trying to reduce the odds of having health problems so I'm out on the pavement, huffing and puffing as I restore an old pastime of mine.
I used to resist the word "jogging" and insisted on "running." The vain pretensions of our younger years seem foolish when we get older. Heavens to Betsy, I thank the Lord I can "jog" today.
I cross the bridge over the swelling Pomme de Terre River and feel thankful we aren't on the list of communities that are threatened by springtime flooding. It must be a handicap to live in one of those towns. It must be a helpless feeling coming up against Mother Nature.
We're familiar with the names of those towns: Breckenridge, Granite Falls, Ada and several others.
There is a sameness to the video news reports from those communities every spring. It's like the wildfires in California.
I could joke that the video footage could be stored and then trotted out whenever the story became current again. Fires on hillsides. Water fiercely churning.
Of course we need to suppress joking. Gilbert Gottfried has learned that.
Fargo is a large community that gets in the crosshairs. But I think the media will be more skeptical the next time officials start pulling their hair out predicting a flood disaster there.
The last time this happened, it was the lead story on the NBC Evening News with Brian Williams. A headline on the Drudge Report suggested we might see a Katrina-level disaster.
Then the waters suddenly crested. It was surely a bad situation but not Katrina-like.
Maybe politicians in the Fargo-Moorhead region like to see the ballyhooed predictions of disaster, because it might help get more funding for flood control.
We always hear that Winnipeg has it made because of the grand measures enacted by men. Whatever Canada can do, we ought to be able to do. Apparently more could be done for communities like Fargo.
Until then we see the hair-pulling in the media each spring as the waters inexorably rise and scare the heck out of people. What a blessing for us in Morris that we can just be spectators.
Spring is a time of year when we reassess where we're at in life. Our minds seem to be stimulated, probably because of the greater amount of sunlight.
I suggest we strive to think about the good aspects in our lives. For me, I will have been unemployed for five years as of June 2. It's a troubling anniversary because so much uncertainty was thrust into my life.
Trying to "stick it out" in my former job would have caused me to age rapidly. The end would have come anyway. That company laid off two people here just within the last few months.
No one can feel happy in that industry now, as it's just a matter of clinging to lifeboats. This is no way to live. Tensions rise and friendships evaporate as each individual just thinks of survival.
The Robert Vaughn character in a World War II movie made an observation about the Nazis toward the end of the war: "A dying animal begins to bite at its own wounds."
I think that's roughly a decent comparison with the newspaper business now.
I can practice journalism today on my own online. But it doesn't pay the bills.
I hope the Riley boys are able to get out and appreciate spring at whatever penal facility they call home (Duluth?). They will have a couple more springs to appreciate from there. I wonder if the lyrics to Johnny Cash songs will start to make sense to them.
I'm sure they'll be back here to resume their roles as community icons. I used to see Joe Riley taking walks along East 7th Street - a perfect pastime for right now.
It will be interesting to see if the Riley Brothers Construction name stays on the Big Cat Stadium scoreboard this fall. I'm betting yes.
The big headline in the Star Tribune read "Tax cheats defended at home." In other words, we need to cling to whatever economic vitality we have. Paying taxes just drains money from the community.
But then again, where would UMM be if no one paid their taxes? I remember a cigarette company using springtime imagery to promote its product when I was young.
"Take a puff, it's springtime," intoned the commercials for Salem Menthols, if you can believe it.
One reason I remember it, is I used that slogan in a cartoon I drew when I was dabbling in cartooning. In the first panel a guy is standing outside his fishhouse, lighting up his Salem cigarette.
"Take a puff. . ." I wrote underneath.
And then the second panel: the guy is splashing around in the water, because after all "it's springtime."
Funny, eh? I never made it to syndication.
I hope to see lots of familiar faces as I'm out jogging in coming weeks. Our Pomme de Terre River will recede. Pretty soon we'll have the high school and UMM graduations and summer will be here.
Our too-short summer. . .
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org