Springtime is here. Tennyson says it’s when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. On the other hand, the late Robin Williams said spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party.”
All that may be true, but to me, it’s hay fever or something blowing off those trees on School of Mines Road; whatever it is that gets me to perfect the unmanly art of nose blowing and throat clearing. At any rate, the vernal equinox went down Sunday morning, when the sun did its thing crossing the celestial equator; or is it the earth that does its spring thing? No matter, today is the fourth full day of spring, which in New Mexico means it can be snowing and the sun shining at the same time.
In my growing up, springtime meant two glorious things: fishing and baseball. Baseball was a game you could play anytime and anywhere you had enough friends to choose up for teams. You don’t need a concrete court or a hoop like in basketball, and you don’t have to worry about getting your face slammed to the ground like in football.
And every player gets to do everything, throw, catch, hit and run; a very democratic game. No wonder it was deemed America’s pastime.
I’m way past my sports fan days, but one thing I’ve always found fun about baseball is the nicknames for my baseball idols. You had the Sultan of Swat, Hammerin’ Hank, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Mr. October, and so forth. Then you have personalities like Shoeless Joe Jackson, The Say Hey Kid, “Yogi” Berra, The Georgia Peach, Stan the Man, and Catfish Hunter. These were larger than life to me and are just the ones I can think of off the top of my white-haired baseball cap-wearing head.
But I digress. Always on the lookout for the oddities in life, I appreciate the little things that remind me that all of us are human. Well, sure, of course, we are, species speaking, but what I mean is that each of us has little quirks and peculiarities that make for individuality.
For instance, if you ask someone what their favorite movie is and their reply is one you think is awful, you’re thinking, “what the heck.” But you nod and say, “Hmm,” just to be nice. Manners, my mother always told me, go a long way.
Anyway, we’re just a few days away from Oscar night, when they give out trophies to movie people and there’s a lot of fawning and gushing and glad-handing going on. Most times I hardly ever have seen the movies they’re talking about, but thanks to streaming on the internet I watched a few of the nominees – Don’t Look Up, Dune, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, The Power of the Dog – all of which were OK. I particularly liked that the setting for The Power of the Dog was a western cattle ranch, but I must say I was somewhat disappointed it wasn’t about dogs. There were, however, some dogies that got “fixed” at branding time.
The movie Being the Ricardos was pretty good, too, but then I did grow up in the I Love Lucy era when the TV world was black and white and shades of gray. It got me reminiscing (again) about those fifties and sixties 30-minute shows and how I still like to revisit them every now and then. Besides the sitcoms and westerns and detective shows, there were also oddly-themed shows. Take the one about helicopter pilots called Whirlybirds, or the rancher in his Cessna called Sky King, or the free-lance scuba diver called Sea Hunt. And don’t forget the two groovy guys driving around in their Corvette having adventures in Route 66. There was even a spate of shows with non-humans as the main character. You had the dolphin in Flipper, the horses in Fury and My friend Flicka, and the dogs in Rin Tin Tin and Lassie.
Speaking of the latter, I saw last week that the American Kennel Club released its latest dog rankings in terms of popularity, and Lassie – oops, collies – came in at number 38, way below Rin Tin Tin – oops, German Shepherds – at number four.
Out of the 197 breeds in America, the number one favorite canine pet in the US of A is Labrador retriever. Rounding out the top 10 are French bulldogs, golden retrievers, poodles, and regular bulldogs, followed by beagles, rottweilers, pointers, and dachshunds. I was half expecting the Chihuahua to be somewhere in the top 10, but it came in one notch above Lassie at number 37.
Oh well, as Jonathan Swift wrote, “Every dog must have his day.”
Just make sure that if you lie down with yours you don’t get up with fleas.