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Empty Nest: Come on, spring!

UPI News Service, 01/27/2010 

(Editor's note: The nest isn't necessarily empty just because the kids leave -- after all, dad's still there, with time and opportunity for pursuits that have been on hold for, let's face it, a generation. This is the latest in a series of reflections.)

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27 (UPI) --It's still January but my thoughts right about now are of spring -- actually, spring has been on my mind pretty much since New Year's Day.

An aversion to winter weather is one of the major reasons I left Baltimore for Los Angeles.

Now, given the truly terrible conditions people endure the world over -- from floods and earthquakes to famine and unspeakably cruel treatment at the hands of others -- it would take a lot more gall than I have to complain about the weather in Southern California, so I won't. But I could mention, without making a big deal about it, that sometimes it is too hot here, or too rainy or (believe it or not) too cold.

Last week it was too rainy and too cold both at the same time.

I often get the sense a lot of us in America are like Goldilocks -- it has to be "just right" or it isn't any good at all. As a dad, I've tried to get my kids to understand one of our main jobs as human beings is to cope and adjust when things don't turn out just exactly the way we want.

They do a pretty good job of it, I am happy to say.

It's often easier said than done, of course, and the degree of difficulty is usually dictated by whatever you have to face at any given moment. The tougher the news, the tougher it is to deal with.

I can't begin to imagine what the survivors in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, are up against as they cope with -- what is the word for it: Disaster, catastrophe? Is there a word that adequately characterizes what happened Jan. 12 and what is still to come as Haitians measure the severity of their losses?

In the past, when I'd say, "Come on, spring!" it was usually because I was good and ready to put winter behind me and enjoy one of the "just right" seasons of the calendar. These days I'm thinking of spring more as a time of renewal -- that part of the annual cycle when life is most insistent, and most determined to get on with the business of living.

I've always enjoyed seeing early signs of spring -- robins (in Maryland, anyway), buds on trees, pitchers and catchers reporting to training camp.

This year, life treated me to a sign of spring I don't think I'd ever seen before. It was at The Rose & Crown, the neighborhood British pub I've referred to in recent posts.

I walked into the place Saturday night and there on the wall behind the bar was a digital timer -- a promotional item from a beer distributor -- counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to St. Patrick's Day. At the time, there were 52 days and change to go -- by now it's less than seven weeks.

Here's another way of putting it: Winter is just about half over!

So it's time to contemplate opening the house again -- really opening it, with windows open for hours and hours at a stretch to let in fresh air. It's time to inspect the yard for damage from last week's relatively intense rain storms. It's time to clean out the garage.

OK, maybe I'll wait until fall to start on the garage, but you get the idea.

That's the thing about the "honey-do" list -- its particulars might change from one season to the next but the list itself is always there, any time of year, whatever the weather. It's relentless, really.

But it's nothing to complain about when you get down to it, is it?

Next: So, written any new songs lately?

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