As I was driving along I-94 not long ago heading west to St. Thomas, my wipers were scraping snow – not rain – off the windshield. I felt more than a little silly having just put the reels on my fishing rods in preparation for the early crappie action on my little lake.
I was trying to recall what spring felt like and why I looked forward to it so much, particularly after a winter like this past one. Yep, I’m ready for a clean car, warm hands, short sleeves and longer days.
I also relish the feel of spring on campus, sitting on the John P. Monahan Plaza in front of the Anderson Student Center. Plopped on a bench, feet on top of the side of the fountain, I must look like an old, black Lab soaking in the sunshine in front of his doghouse in the backyard. It feels luxurious, peaceful and so very appropriate. From that perch, I get a wide-angle view of students walking across the quad with phones to their ears, John Ireland’s steely gaze and a row of two-wheelers in the bike stand next to OEC.
While I’m lounging in the sun, students are actually reading and studying outside. I watch ’em as I walk along Cleveland Avenue to my car, lying under the branches of an old, oak tree sitting atop a small mound, just southeast of Ireland Hall. Usually they are women – feet in the air, book on the ground, hand under the chin.
For some reason, I think of a Norman Rockwell painting, something I might have seen on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. It’s a retro thought for a modern student, who undoubtedly has her smart phone within arm’s reach.
Another piece of campus real estate I like in the spring is the track around the football field, especially early in the morning. Sometimes, I’ll set foot on the artificial turf and imagine I’m running the final leg of the 880-yard relay. I have a five-yard deficit as I get the baton and sprint ahead.
In my Walter Mitty dream, I make up the lost ground and pull away at the finish. In real life, I walk once around the track at a brisk pace before getting my coffee in the library.
Finally, just off campus I find the smell of springtime. It’s along Mississippi River Boulevard, at the end of Summit Avenue. As I walk, I believe I can detect the aroma from rotting wood, muddy water and floating fish. Yep, the old river smells fishy. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but take it from a guy who’s spent days and months in a boat with a fishing pole in his hand.
Fishy. Get out and smell for yourself.