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Baseball, BBQs and Baby Ducks: Our Favorite Things about Spring

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It’s officially (technically?) spring here in Peoria and as we sit at The Peorian offices gazing out our windows at life renewing itself once again, two things leap to the forefront of our thoughts. First is that undeniable, aching desire to get outside and DO SOMETHING. Second is how badly these windows need to be cleaned.* So in the spirit of this annual return to bloom, we asked our murder of writers what spring means to them. Enjoy!

* Seriously, there's a tremendous amount of build up on these windows.

Paul Gordon
Spring means baseball to me. I always loved baseball, but I was not good at it. I got beaned by a 14-year-old when I was nine and was afraid of the ball ever since. But I still followed the game closely and it was easy to become a Cardinal fan because of one of my fondest memories – sitting on the front porch with my Dad, listening to Jack Buck and Harry Caray call the games on KMOX, which were carried on the local station in my hometown of Vincennes, Ind., which is about three hours due east of St. Louis. Games weren’t televised back then like they are now. We usually could see one game a week on TV, on Saturday afternoons with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek calling the action. But it was the Cardinals we followed most, which was easy with Harry Caray because he had so much fun with it, which meant he was fun to listen to. Remember how he called a home run? Or him singing, “The Cardinals are coming, tra la la la la/The Cardinals are coming, tra la la la la?”  My Dad thought he was a nut but he liked him, too.

Stuart Clubb
My favorite thing about the start of the season is the air changing around us. The air becomes thicker with humidity, pollen, the smell of BBQ, sounds of nature returning, motorcycles and all the other smells and sounds that go away when cold weather hits. Everything feels closer, more saturated. I recorded this about 10 months ago on a perfectly pleasant night while camping. It has a lot of layers to it: a nearby stream, frogs, crickets and the crackling and popping of a fire. It's a shame it only lasts a few months out of the year, but that's probably why it’s special to me too. So yes, I am definitely looking forward to the next few months and the bloom of spring.

Terry Towery
I have to admit, I'm an autumn kind of guy most of the time. There's something about football and hot chili and caramel apples that just kind of trips my trigger. That said there's a lot to love about spring, too.

Like, for instance, baseball. And warmer weather. And baseball. And mowing the...uh, baseball. I like baseball. No. Not true. I LOVE baseball.

Baseball is, cliché or not, a perfect metaphor for life itself. It starts out in the budding infancy of spring, so hopeful, so optimistic, so full of promise. And then it slowly, and I mean S-L-O-W-L-Y, winds its way forward through a series of alternately heartbreaking and wonderful twists and turns. It becomes most interesting just when it gets hottest then it begins to cool toward an ending that, while generally predictable, can also surprise us, delight us, or sometimes terrify us. And then it ends, abruptly for some, and almost always too soon.

But spring. That's when it starts, isn't it? That's when everything is new and covered in dew. When everything that counts is still in front of us, when nothing can go truly wrong.

Spring. When all things are possible.  

Kevin Kizer
Thinking about spring takes me back to my younger days and something that truly embodied the start of the warmer months: the return of the mallard ducks to the backyard of my childhood home.

I lived on a quiet cul-de-sac in Mishawaka, Ind., just across the street from where the broad and murky St. Joe River made its bend south (hence, the city of South Bend). Our backyard was home to many a woodland critter including a pair of mallard ducks who would make their nest nearby. They were attracted to our backyard undoubtedly because of its proximity to the river and because it was a haven for wildlife, complete with bird feeders, bird baths and plenty of ground cover for protection from predators.

After noticing their presence, we started feeding the ducks bread, which they greedily devoured and got used to – so much so that nearly every morning they would be waiting on the step leading from our patio to our house. As soon as I opened the curtains they would waddle away a few feet, quacking angrily, and then return to where I sat on the step holding their morning victuals. They became so used to my presence that the “mama duck” would take the bread from my hand (while never taking an eye off me). The “papa” never came that close; I had to toss strips of bread to where he stood a few feet away ever watchful over his mate.

Soon after their arrival, my mother would put out a shallow gray planter tray filled with water (since the ducks couldn’t reach the bird bath). We thought they would just drink from the tray. Instead, the mama duck would climb in and waddle around in the water, again, with her mate attentively waiting nearby. Later in the summer when their brood had hatched, the young ducklings would spend their days frolicking in the water-filled tray (which was the most wonderful thing for an animal-loving kid to experience), until they were big enough to make the trek across the dangerous street to the St. Joe River. We remained by their side providing a waterfowl escort, stopping traffic and making sure they made it safely down to the water’s edge. And I can proudly say that, on my watch, we never lost one duckling along the way.

Shaun Taylor
To me, spring is new beginnings. Birds singing. Kids playing outside, reinvigorated by the sun's golden rays. As an April baby (April 26th), the arrival of spring also lets me know that I've been blessed with another wonderful year no matter how many ups and downs I've experienced along the way. In the end, to me spring is like my favorite day, Thursday.  It lets you know that the best part of the year is right around the corner.  Just like Thursday let's you know it's almost time for the weekend!

Steven Streight
In the spring, I like starting my organic herb and flower gardens, doing some landscaping, and walking greater distances for health – and I recently bought a brand new pair of sneakers for long distance walking.

Matt Richmond
It's not #%!&ing spring! There's still snow on the ground up here.* When I do go outdoors, it will be to disassemble the snow rake. I guess I look forward to that.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: Matt is currently living in the upper reaches of Michigan before he moves out to sunny LA in a couple of months.

About the Author
A Juilliard-trained writer, Kevin Kizer has fought against numerous world-champion writers during his career, besting the reigning middle weight writing champion in an exhibition bout in Helsinki in 1976. He also played a crucial role on the U.S. gold-medal winning writing team during the 1984 Pan-Am games, where he came off the bench in dramatic fashion to write the winning prepositional phrase just as time expired.