Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Of Spring, Baseball, and Baby Birds

John W. Lillpop

Now that the cold, gray days of December and January are nearly behind us, it
is time to start musing about, and planning for, spring.

Already, daylight hours are growing longer, little by little, day by day. Precious minutes of extra sunshine are reminders from the Almighty that better days are just around the corner.

Other signs make it obvious that spring is about to bless us once again: Plants dormant until now are starting to sprout tiny buds that will soon develop into beautiful flowers of infinite color and splendor.

Trees and other vegetation are also showing the beginnings of new life that will evolve into magnificent bushes and weeping willows. Soon.

Indeed, a check of the calendar confirms where Mother Nature is headed: In just seven short weeks, it will officially be spring! Plenty of wonderful things happen during the rituals of spring.

For example, my ex-wife and I were manacled to each other on what was otherwise a very pleasant spring afternoon. OK, spring is not limited to wonderful events--sh** happens, even in March!

Still, spring is a joy to behold.

For fanatics like me, late January signals the rebirth of the "greatest game ever played," that being baseball.

In just three weeks or so, baseball batteries--pitchers and catchers--will report to Spring Training camps in Arizona and Florida. These millionaires with attitude will descend upon cities like Vero Beach, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Mesa.

Spring is not without it's screwball ball players. Example: Every spring at least one of baseball's multi- millionaire superstars misses the opening of training camp in order to take care of "personal business."

Excuse me, Mr. Superstar. You have had 4.5 months to tend to your personal affairs. You are being paid $20 million a year, but can not manage your life well enough to report to spring training on time?

If I were the general manager involved, I would advise Mr. Superstar that there is only one condition under which an extension would even be considered: That would be if a cardiologist advised the player, in writing, that his only hope for survival was an immediate heart transplant.

Anything less severe would be unacceptable, and the player would be told to get his $20,000,000 butt in gear---and into camp on time!


Spring also means the return of thousands of lively birds, merrily chirping in celebration of the joy of spring.

About seven years ago, a bird couple decided to start their family in the fixture of my front porch ligh. It was not clear why they chose my porch for parenting, but there was no immediately obvious problem so I did not protest. The birds proceeded to build their nest with twigs from around the neighborhood.

Before long, the mother was sitting 24/7 on two eggs in the nest. A couple of weeks later, two baby chicks were screaming for food as the new mother and father left the nest to find food for the latest family members.

And shortly thereafter, the parents and their baby chicks were gone, leaving behind only tattered twigs.

As a novice bird baron, I figured that was it. The birds came, did their thing, and then took their brats away to wherever it is that birds go for spring and summer.

But wonder of wonder, the following spring, a bird couple again decided to build their nest in the exact same spot, under my porch light. And just like the previous year, the birds came, answered the call of nature, and then took the newborn brats elsewhere.

By now I was puzzled: How did those birds remember my porch light a year later? What was so special about my porch?

Did those birds realize that I am an unstable, right wing nutcase who could turn mean at any moment?

Still, I figured that I had seen the last of the birds and would never have to deal with that situation again.

Wonder of wonders of wonders! Come next spring, two birds showed up and started erecting a nest at the very same spot, under in porch light. By now, however, the newness had worn off and this bird act was no longer cute.

So when the couple delivered a few twigs for the nest, I removed the twigs. This battle of man versus nature went on for a few days until the birds finally gave up.

Victory, I enthused! Those birds were gone, this time forever!

They were indeed gone--for that spring.

But when spring arrived the following year, so did a bird couple with mating on their minds. Oblivious to my wishes and past eviction orders, the soon-to-be mom and dad started gathering twigs and assembling a nest in the exact same location--in my porch light.

This time, the sight of those birds doing God's will struck a senstive nerve in my soul.

As a result, I have decided that the birds can stay as long as they and their brats are off my porch by the time of the baseball All-star game, which is in mid-July.

So far, so good. The birds come back every spring, do their thing, and then vacate the porch light with their brats in tow, as per my edict.

Being a powerful white male is so much fun!

John Lillpop is a recovering liberal, "clean and sober" since 1992 when last he voted for a Democrat. Pray for John: He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where people like Nancy Pelosi are considered reasonable!