The early swing for spring

PHOTO: Anthony Easton Flickr CC-BY
Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Mesabi Tribune.

They shouldn’t even schedule youth baseball games until it’s safe to plant your garden outside. Aren’t they pretty much the same thing? 

Yeah, your kid can put on a sweatshirt, but so can your vegetables. That doesn’t make it a good use of our time. If you wait long enough the frost will let up. Maybe *that’s* when we should all sit on the cold aluminum bleachers. 

In Minnesota, spring baseball and softball games loom like an ill-advised wedding. The event’s been postponed twice already because of personal drama between the the bride, the groom, the cake decorator, and up to three members of the wedding party. We could keep trying to reschedule this, but why don’t we just let a little time go by? Situation might take care of itself.

Spring ball means being on call. My wife and I are basically Uber drivers for a single, non-paying customer who, God bless him, smells like a gym sock in a sauna. 

The phone buzzes and we find out whether we’re going to Grand Rapids, Greenway, Sauk Center, Plymouth, Omaha, Albuquerque, or a lost Incan city deep in the mountains of Peru (Google map attached). Or maybe not. You know, if it snows or floods or if the earth’s magnetic field reverses.

There’s a reason baseball players are often called “the boys of summer.” It has something to do with the season that comes after spring-winter but before fall-winter. 

I suppose that’s why most Major Leaguers hail from places like Utopia Beach, Florida; Coatless, California; or Heat Stroke, Texas. Big, healthy kids with sun tans and different kinds of sandals for different kinds of social situations. 

All the great baseball and softball players from Minnesota are basically kids whose parents let them destroy all the drywall in the rec room, a small subset of the larger population of parents. This year our tax assessment went down and we swear it’s because our son wrecked all the siding on the garage right before the assessor visited.

Spring baseball in the North Star state requires a lot of fortitude. And conditioning, I’m told. As fancy folks have told me, “Summer bodies are made in the winter.” That might be true, but there is something about spring in Minnesota that’s worse than winter. I think it’s the humidity. I’ll take a dry ten below over a wet 35.

Comments like that get me thinking about all the middle aged cliches I’m living as I wait for my son to finish practice. Last week I don’t know how many times I cursed the squirrels eating all the bird seed at our feeder. At first it was purely ironic, I swear, but by the weekend I meant it. 

It’s not FAIR, I said. I don’t mind if the squirrel gets SOME of the seed but HE’S HOGGING IT ALL. Our oldest son moved the feeder and I then spent a day laughing at the squirrels. HA! That’s RIGHT you get NOTHING.

See, my main concern was for the little birds who depend on seeds to survive the cold. I empathize with them, sitting out on the tiny little bleachers of their tiny little birdball games. It might be said they had a choice in the matter, but that hardly *feels* true.

Maybe another problem with spring is that we all emerge from our dens to realize what we’ve become. Or maybe how much work there is to do. It takes a heap of cold practices to become a hot weather phenom.

In my case I’m a writer who writes in a minivan parked by a baseball field. It’s snowing, but not “cancel snowing,” and I’m warming up the vehicle so my client, a sturdy lad with a promising future, gives me a five star review. You know, after I’m dead. 

Not from hypothermia, I hope. 

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and co-hosts the podcast “Power in the Wilderness” on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, April 25, 2021 edition of the Mesabi Tribune.



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