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Saratoga’s delayed Spring season…finally
Anyone born to the Northeast, or any
long-term resident, has come to know that upstate NY can be cruel in fooling
you this time of year. I got use to saying that there were normally “7 False Springs” in this area, before the season had truly changed. Transitional
season means that there can be thunderstorms with 70 degree temps that bring frogs and toads on the roads and the sound of peepers from the swamps for the first time one day (like, say, April 16th)
, and the next you have 20 degree wind-chills and hail squalls, and feel sorry for those amphibianss who popped out of the mud a bit too soon.
There are days when we all say, It’s here, It’s here! And we run up to it like Charlie Brown
about to kick the football Lucy is holding, only to get it yanked away. That
is what most of April was like. But
now, in the first week of May, 2013, though it was snowing in Colorado
yesterday, we are in the middle of a balmy 70 degree stretch in upstate
NY. Still, we may get fooled again but I
believe the delay is over, and the “false springs” are behind us.
I rejoiced internally last Saturday,
in between appointment rounds, when I saw almost every long-dormant outdoor playground
filled with activity. I saw girls
playing soccer and softball, Little Leaguers
eagerly practicing, lacrosse racquets in action, joggers jogging, and elders
swinging tennis racquets. Geyser Road
complex, Gavin Park in Wilton, Eastside Rec playgrounds, Skidmore’s campus
perimeter, Daniels Road soccer complex, Westside Rec, even southside fields adjacent to Saratoga’s Racino
I’d not seen used before, were at full capacity on my journeys that day. Even though my kids are older now and not
engaged in such outdoor fests on a glorious spring Saturday, I felt vicarious
delight that parents and kids had returned to light-hearted games, as an
antidote to the horrific happenings in Boston, mid-April.
I keep having flashbacks, however, to
an indoor sport played this time of year–AAU Basketball–which had dominated
almost a decade of our lives from 2000-2009, when Miles was competing
year-round, at gyms all over the area, and on weekends up-and-down the east
coast at non-stop Tournaments. Those
days are gone for us, and we feel both nostalgia and relief that it is over
with! So much more time on our hands, less
constant travel, fewer fastfood stops and hotels-on-the-road, less expense, and
more time to work!! I don’t know how we
did it, because when he was at his most serious, it was an 11-month-a-year
I know there are a lot of
parents of athletes out there who commit just as strongly to their kid’s
passion for what seems like a long parade of practices and contests… whether
rowing, baseball, softball, running, football, hoop, golf, swimming or
gymnastics… whatever it is, I know it becomes an addiction to the parents–to revel
in watching your child PERFORM–that is tough to leave behind once they go off
to college, or the service, or the workworld.
But that is where my wife and I are now–and we wonder how we had time
for “real life” or even a full workweek–when we were in the full throes of that
My daughter and my second son,
however, are glad that those days are over, and we can now cater to them in
different ways. Life with multiple
children is a balancing act at any given moment, and I feel true compassion for
anyone with more than 3 to schedule for, and chauffeur.
Perennial Dilemma of Spring: Yellow Flags, versus Dandelions…
The excellent weather that has
finally arrived brings both good and bad.
Whereas last year we were mowing the lawns in late March, it seemed, but it is May now and we are just beginning to worry about it. But I
am kicking myself for not preparing for this moment a couple of months ago,
when I should have written and emailed a letter to the members of our HOA,
pleading the case for ORGANIC methods of fertilizing and pest control for our
median and common areas, as well as on their own lawns. I cringe and grit my teeth when I see the “Little
Yellow Flags” sprout up, in our neighborhood and others, as it means the
chemical taint of PESTICIDES has returned for another round. I got out of my car, 9 miles west of
Saratoga, way out in the countryside, and I could distinctly smell the
contamination of commercial poisons, which had just been sprayed or spread that
day. Anyone who tells me this kind of
thing is safe has got to be oblivious.
I find that the same people who will solicit fundraising for research for cures to common diseases are often the same
ones who are treating their lawns with suspected carcinogens, and not seeing
any contradiction in that. Personally–I don’t
want to focus on finding a CURE for cancer, for my own life and my family, I want
to PREVENT it. And I don’t mean to be
callous about this–no one contracts those epidemic illnesses voluntarily–but I believe there
is no mistaking a connection between a petro-chemically-saturated environment
and the toxic buildups in our bodies that lead to dis-ease.
I am especially concerned about the
people who treat their lawns to make them greener and more homogenous–more suburban,
in other words–and then let their kids or grandkids or pets romp around on the
grass soon afterwards, because the company that performed the treatment told
them–“it only lasts 24 hours or so.” O really?
Whether bare-skinned feet or shoe-bottoms or paws, there has GOT to be some trace amounts brought
back into their homes and insidiously absorbed into their bodies–but the
population continues to do what TV commercials are brainwashing them to
do– FEED YOUR LAWN, LADDIE, FEED
IT! Or in the case of the Ortho commericials, shows a man squirting specific poisons at dandelions like they were guerrila insurgents. As with aboriginal cultures, wild flowers and perennials were here first.
My lawn, and that of my two nearest
neighbors, thankfully, is sprouting dandelions this time of year, which my wife
hates but I take pride in. I am a
contrarian, a naturalist, and co-existing with dandelions (referred to as “weeds” by the
advertising world) is acceptable to me– the least of my worries, in fact. I can walk on my lawn barefoot and not come
away with anything other than grass-stains and organic dirt. That will be the extent of my environmental
sermon for now, except to add that the personal inconvenience of smelling the pesticides and bemoaning their yellow-flagged presence in my neighborhood pales next to my fears of what the chemical treatments are doing to the clear-running tributaries and streams in our immediate vicinity– notably the sacred KAYDEROSSERAS Creek, upon which the mills of Middle Grove and other nearby towns were founded. When we first moved out here, the trout could be heard and seen jumping out of the water on a regular basis; now there are no minnows or fish of any sort visible, and a former Grade A Trout Stream now seems devoid of life. Coincidence?
As with the honey bees’ colony collapse disorder, I have no doubt in my mind or my gut that pesticides and toxic chemical ubiquity are responsible, and I will try to convince as many people as possible in my lifetime to understand the connection between an organic lifestyle, and trying to improve an already-contaminated world that we are leaving our children. Peace to all who read this, and aside from my tirade on pesticides, I wish you all a joyous and healthy spring season.