By Craig Funston
We are now sitting at the time of year I call “the ugly side of spring.” It’s not winter, it’s not spring, and it’s not pretty. But I do like it only because we are (hopefully) only weeks away from the the pretty side of spring.
So “pretty ugly” would be somewhere in between.
I take it you’re dying for me to explain what I mean by “ugly side of spring.” Well, it’s the time between the snow and the grow (aka the white and the green), and the ice rink and the golf course (which would be the white and the greens).
I know we’ve had a long winter, and who’s to say we’re finished with the snow and the ice? After all, it’s Alberta and it’s not early June (it’s only early April). We all have our stories, and mine is that I have driven to a wedding in the sun in June and driven home in the snow–all in the same day.
The ground cover slowly recedes in March, so by the end of March and beginning of April (that would be now, Maurice), we tend to get this soupy, bleached surface, commonly known as grass, that’s part of a lawn, pasture, or playground. Until then, though, rubber boots are the footwear of the day.
Chores can be odious enough, but I hate doing them at this time of year for the above reason. Between the muck and grime around my hay bales, it really adds to the workload of feeding my cows. And those who have real cow/calf operations will feel it even more (pun blessedly intended).
On the one hand, I am glad to get rid of the snow and the ice, but there is something pristine and pure about the white stuff. It’s everywhere it should be, and sometimes where it shouldn’t be. The ideal is to have snow-covered fields, with dry pavement on the highways. But the key is that it also acts as a cover-up for the mess beneath.
Imagine snow as a blanket or a rug: Peel it away and you might be surprised what’s underneath.
Another advantage of the white stuff is that there is minimal risk for prairie fires. Buildings may burn—I lost two houses in the middle of a snow-covered property—but fields will not. That changes where spring turns to summer, summer to fall.
But the ugliest side to spring, if you will, involves a completely different world, namely, the other, bigger world out there—hockey. That would have been my reference to “the ice rink and the golf course.” Within a couple of weeks, certain teams will trade hockey sticks for golf clubs, while others will “play on” in the play-offs.
Boy, am I witty or what? (Who just said “what”?)
You see, there is this enterprise called the National Hockey League, a business in which grown millionaires play a boys’ game for a few months of the year, many until the end of May or early June.
That is, unless your team name rhymes with Oilers, Flames, or Canucks.
That then becomes another reason I call this the “ugly part of spring.” You see, in the fall and winter, there is hope, optimism, and some national pride in this sport we call our Canadian pastime. But by the time January and February roll around, hope becomes angst, optimism becomes doubt, and the emphasis of national pride in hockey slowly slides into baseball.
Or, as Cousin Reggie would say, that would be a shift from the Toronto Maple Laughs to the Toronto Boo Jays
And all the terminology I used for mucky, soupy, and grimy ground surface comes into play for how I feel about the Edmontons, Calgarys, Vancouvers, Winnipegs, Torontos, and Ottawas of our world.
Oh well, when it comes to grassland or Canadian teams in hockey, it’s been a long, hard winter and is gearing up to be yet another ugly spring.