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COLUMN: Spring is my season

Mar. 13—It is perhaps the most under-appreciated thing in our lives.

I know it is for me every spring when I open my drawer of shorts that have been packed away for the winter.

Somewhere prior to that first of the season drawer opening, I no doubt contemplated the two large, very white appendages which are most in need of sunshine...aka my legs. Casper the Friendly Ghost is not any whiter than my legs get after being housed in long pants all winter.

The arms maintain at least a semblance of tan year-round, such is the nature of my wardrobe.

The sun comes out, the sleeves and inseams get shorter. And with all the driving I do covering the local high school sports scene, at least one of my arms is on the window ledge of my truck door, soaking up some sunlight through the windows.

I am warm by nature. Spring is my season.

A string of overcast skies and rain is something I've learned to deal with, which was really handy for my days living in the Seattle and Portland areas.

There is no substitute for sunshine in my humble opinion. I was a tanning bed freak for awhile, but in places like Seattle that prompts a lot of "wow, what island have you been on?" inquiries.

Growing up in Billings the first day the thermometer topped 40 degrees, the coats came off and t-shirts were the rule. Shorts usually required 50 degrees or better, but not always.

Heck, Superior football and girls basketball head coach Jeff Schultz is always sporting shorts, indoors and out, all year round.

So you can imagine my delight this past Friday when I spent some time in Thompson Falls, not exactly known as a sunshine haven, watching the newly formed Thompson Falls-Noxon high school baseball team go through some drills.

And, how proud and nostalgic it was for me to see the coats and sweatshirts being shed in the outfield grass as the players soaked in the warmth and energy from the Sun, which we learned long ago was the actual center of the known universe.

I think the thermometer may have broken 50 degrees, if so it was not by much. There was still a detectable chill similar to a sun-filled Autumn day when the power of the sun begins to dim with the approach of winter.

Robins hopping around the yard are one thing, the ping or crack of bat on ball is another when it comes to sure signs Spring is coming.

The Thompson Falls baseball field, which is located just south and east of the high school football field, was a sun-splashed place Friday afternoon. The thought of snow was relegated to the white caps on the surrounding mountains.

And there was ample evidence this was among the first real sunshine days, mostly in the form of some still soggy in a few areas outfield grass, and the mud traps in the dirt infield.

But as I soaked it all in, the warmth on my face was all I needed to know.

Sure, there will be more snow and no doubt Spring rain...this is Montana.

But the infield is drying and the grass is getting ready to turn green.

In fact, the two schools were practicing at the Thompson Falls field, a work in progress that won't in all likelihood be ready for games this first season of the T Falls-Noxon co-op venture because there are still pockets of snow on the Noxon field.

The co-op'ers first game is two weeks away in Polson, so the sun has some time to finish its preparatory work. The plan is for the team to practice the next two weeks in Noxon as they get ready to open their first high school baseball season against the state champion Polson Pirates.

It will happen. One thing all Montanans learn quickly is that patience may not be a weather virtue, but it is a weather necessity in Big Sky country.

All I know is while I was waiting for the players to arrive and practice to begin for coach Lucas MacAruther and company, I was thoroughly reveling in the early season sunshine.

Stick a bag of popcorn and a soda in my hands and I would have been all set.

Memories of past games in my life flooded my sun-warmed brain.

Yup, Spring is on the way.

Baseball doesn't lie.

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