It’s Starting

The signs of spring are all around us. Even around the Kowalski Heat Treating buildings.

Can you feel it?  And smell it?  Yep, spring is starting here on the beautiful Northcoast.  Like a little kid anxious for summer recess, I just love this time of year.  In so many ways – the air smells fresher, the sun’s rays seem to cast a different shadow on the ground, the sky is bluer, the ice begins to shrink on the Lake, and everyone just seems happier. I know for a fact that my significant other can’t wait to start to tackle the yard! In our KHT tradition, I thought I’d list a bunch of signs of spring’s arrival, sprinkled in with some of my own behaviors and observations. Enjoy. And if you have any ques of your own, shoot me an email or give me a call – would love to hear about them and share with our readers.

Snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses– This year, the first snowdrops were seen well in advance.  The delicate flowers are now making their brief appearance and in some places daffodils and crocuses are already out.  In my neighbor’s yard, a few have popped open.  Brilliant!
Celandines(buttercups)- These flowers are called celandines, and they look a quite similar to buttercups.  Keep an eye out for bundles of lesser celandine flowers in woodlands, hedgerows and in gardens. Their bright petals turn the ground into a sea of yellow; a reminder that the mild weather of spring and summer is yet to come.
Bumblebees– Bumblebees start buzzing around on warm days in spring – the best time to look out for them is in March and April. The first bumblebees during this time are the queens, searching for nectar and a good drink before finding the perfect grounds for her colony.  Meanwhile, the mining bees will begin emerging from their underground cells, leaving small, neat piles of soil around the exit holes.
The Shedding of the Snow blowers– It’s about this time of year when the guys on the street move their snow blowers to the shed and drag out their lawnmowers and leaf blowers.  Nothing like the sound of whining blowers, as the neighbors do a quick cleaning of their decks.
First Grilling– Can you resist that smell? My neighbors get brave again, fighting the chill in the air to get the first steak or ribs or chicken on the grill. In full disclosure, there really is nothing like grilling outside when it is snowing!
Frogs and Tadpoles– One of the first amphibians to emerge in spring is the frog. At this time, ponds come to life with frogs getting busy and laying their eggs, which look like small jelly-like bubbles floating in the water. On one of my runs, I could hear them calling early at sunrise.
Birds Singing– As the days gradually become lighter and temperatures start to lift, the birds begin to sing, rejoicing that the end of winter is close. Birds bring a wonderful soundtrack to spring that can be quite dazzling, the ones to listen out for include the song thrush, robin, bluejays and cardinals.  I love the call of the cardinals early in the morning.
Wild Garlic– It’s a favorite amongst chefs and is one of the most sought-after cooking ingredients. Go for a stroll in the woodlands during springtime and you might come across the smell of ramsons – otherwise known as wild garlic.  Wild garlic can be spotted by its lush green leaves that sprout in March, while its star-like white flowers appear in April.
Migrant Birds– During the transition period of winter into spring, many of us will start noticing winter birds leaving as the summer birds returning north.  Being on the coast, we are a resting area before the trek across the lake – favorite include: woodpeckers, blackbirds, sparrows and of course my favorite, named …the yellow bellied sapsucker.
The First Cut– I resist it as long as possible, because we all know, once you make the “first cut” of the lawn, it’s a weekly chore.  I have a few neighbors who love to be out there at the first sign of spring, lookin’ all perfect, before I’ve even reached for the pull cord.
Mulch Madness– After the first cuts of course, comes Mulch Madness. A favorite in our neighborhood, when landscapers and homeowners pull out the wheelbarrows, shovels and gloves and haul it around the yard.  It has a unique smell – and not always a pleasant one!
Ducklings & Squirrels– One of the most common animals associated with spring is ducklings, as mother ducks start to take care of their new babies. While others that might be seen in the garden, park or in local farmlands include lambs, badgers, rabbits and chicks. And are all the squirrels just happy to be outside – most in my yard sprint back and forth on the patio, and up and down the trees.
Finally Taking Down the Holiday Lights– Yep, I too have a few neighbors who decided it’s warm enough to get out the ladder and finish taking down the lights. Doesn’t work at my house – Jackie keeps me on my toes right after the New Year.
Shootin’ Hoops– Growing up, we thought getting out on the driveway and shootin’ hoops was the best.  With March madness in full swing and NBA playoffs near, the kids are reenacting the moves they see on TV. It keeps them active for hours, laughing and having fun. My favorite was playing PIG or HORSE… yours? . Here’s a link to some crazy crazy shots.  Bet you can’t stop watching.  :-))
The Tribe and Tom Hamilton– Here in NE Ohio, the words Tribe and Tom Hamilton go hand in hand.  I love to turn on games, and just listen to his brilliance, tracking each pitch, introducing us to new line ups and new players, and of course his famous “It’s way back … gone! calls for the big homers.  Like this one!!
First Buds– You can see them on the trees, and forsythia and pussy willows (smaller species of the genus Salix (willows and sallows) and first flowers popping out of the ground here at the main plant headquarters. I remember Mom cutting the pussywillows and bringing them into the house, where they’d stay for months – a reminder Easter in near.

 

 


 

“Road Trip”

(row one left) When the Indian’s trucks roll out, spring training is right around the corner. (row one top right) Cleveland Indians fan Jon Brittan looks on before the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Goodyear Ballpark Mar 19, 2017. (row one bottom right) Kids along the foul line try to snag a grounder. (row two) Goodyear Ballpark’s 1 Millionth Fan, Jean Wilson. Excited much? (row three) Getting autographs is a huge part of the game. (row four) I just had to share these: The little t-baller is just so darn cute! And the little dude on the right, Christian Haupt was the youngest person to ever throw a first pitch at a Major League Baseball game a few days after his 4th birthday. See his throw HERE. (It’s near the end of the video if you want to zoom to it). (row five) Play ball, baby! Can’t wait for opening day!

 

As the ice starts to shift on the lake, and we hit some warm days in NE Ohio, I love to reconnect with one of my favorites – spring training.  Like all athletes, it’s a time when I harken back to pre-season workouts, long runs, weight training and working on fundamentals.  As a business owner, I like to review our “basics” – those things that’s made us successful for so many years – making sure we’re ready for your “routine grounders” and “pop ups” – responding promptly to inquiries, making deliveries on time, and just consistently solving your pesky PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs.  I like to open the doors, let in the fresh air, and spend some time with each of the crew, finding those little things we can work on to serve you better.  While not the consistent warmth of Florida or Arizona, it does give us time to train and prep for the upcoming season.  For those who have the time, jump on a flight, or in the car, and hit some spring training camps – fun relaxed, and you never know where the next Babe will emerge.  Thanks Wikipedia for the trivia.

 

  1. In Major League Baseball (MLB), spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives existing players practice time prior to competitive play.
  2. Spring training has always attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warmer climates to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play, and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many US college students.
  3. Spring training typically starts in mid-February and continues until just before Opening Day of the regular season, traditionally the first week of April. In some years, teams not scheduled to play on Opening Day will play spring training games that day. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training first because pitchers benefit from a longer training period. A few days later, position players arrive and team practice begins.
  4. Spring training by major league teams in sites other than their regular season game sites first became popular in the 1890s and by 1910 was in wide use. Hot Springs, Arkansas has been called the original “birthplace” of Spring Training baseball. The location of Hot Springs and the concept of getting the players ready for the upcoming season was the brainchild of Chicago White Stockings (today’s Chicago Cubs) team President Albert Spalding and Cap Anson. In 1886, the White Stockings traveled to Hot Springs to prepare for the upcoming season. Practicing at the Hot Springs Baseball Grounds, the White Stockings had a successful season and other teams took notice and began holding spring training in Hot Springs.
  5. The Cleveland Spiders, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Red Sox followed the White Stockings to Hot Springs. Whittington Park/Ban Johnson Park (1894), Majestic Park (1909) and Fogel Field (1912) were all built in Hot Springs to host Major League teams.
  6. Famously, a young pitcher named Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox was playing an emergency game at first base on St. Patrick’s Day, 1918, his first time playing the field. Ruth would hit two home runs that day in Hot Springs, and the second was a 573-foot shot that landed across the street from Whittington Park in a pond of the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. Soon he was playing the field more often.
  7. Over 130 Major League Baseball Hall of Famers, including such names as Ruth, Cy Young, Cap Anson, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby, Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx were involved in Hot Springs Spring Training games.
  8. The Detroit Tigers are credited with being the first team to conduct spring training camp in Arizona. They trained in Phoenix at Riverside Park at Central Avenue and the Salt River in 1929.
  9. The Philadelphia Phillies were the first of the current major-league teams to train in Florida, when they spent two weeks in Jacksonville, Florida in 1889. Spring training in Florida began in earnest in 1913, when the Chicago Cubs played in Tampa, and the Cleveland Indians in Pensacola. One year later, two other teams moved to Florida for spring training, the real start of the Grapefruit League.
  10. Except for a couple of years during World War II, when travel restrictions prevented teams training south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers, Florida hosted more than half of the spring training teams through 2009. Since 2010, major league teams have been equally divided during spring training, with 15 teams in Florida and 15 teams in Arizona.
  11. According to the autobiography of former Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck, the avoidance of racism was one reason the Cactus League was established. In 1947, Veeck was the owner of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers and the team trained in Ocala, Florida. Veeck inadvertently sat in the Black section of the segregated stands and engaged in conversation with a couple of fans. According to Veeck’s book, the local law enforcement told Veeck he could not sit in that section, and then called the Ocala mayor when Veeck argued back. The mayor finally backed down when Veeck threatened to take his team elsewhere for spring training and promised to let the country know why.
  12. The Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Havana, Cuba in 1947 and 1949, and in the Dominican Republic in 1948. The New York Yankees also trained in the early 1950s in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Spring training camps and games were also held in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and various cities of northern Mexico, sometimes by visiting major league teams in the 1950s and 1960s.
  13. During World War II, most teams held an abbreviated spring training within easy reach of their cities. In order to conserve rail transport during the war, 1943’s Spring Training was limited to an area east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River. The Chicago White Sox held camp in French Lick, Indiana; the Washington Senators in College Park, Maryland; and the New York Yankees in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
  14. Before and shortly after big league baseball reached the West Coast, a number of teams trained in the state of California or along the state boundary. The Chicago Cubs trained on Catalina Island in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. For example, early in their history, the then-California Angels held spring training in Palm Springs, California from 1961 to 1993, the San Diego Padres in Yuma, Arizona from 1969 to 1993, the Oakland Athletics in Las Vegas in the 1970s, and various major league teams had trained in Riverside, San Bernardino, and El Centro near the Mexican border.
  15. The concept of spring training is not limited to North America; the Japanese professional baseball leagues’ teams adopted spring training and preseason game sites across East Asia such as South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan; the Pacific Islands (most notably in Hawaii); and two cities in the United States: Salinas, California and Yuma, Arizona on the Mexican border.

Grapefruit League – Florida

 

Cactus League – Arizona

 

 


 

Birds, Bees, Baseball

(top) View of the sun from the north pole in springtime. All day and all night. (row two l to r) The birds; the bees; etc. (row three l to r) Nothing says spring like cherry blossoms; Did you know that the face of the Great Sphinx points directly toward the rising sun on the spring equinox? How did they figure that out? (row four l to r) Fact: children grow faster in the spring; True or false: eggs balance on their ends during the spring equinox; Go Tribe!!!

 

Got that “can’t wait” feeling? This week marks the official start of spring – and it can’t have come soon enough. We’ve been teased this year, enjoying days in the 70’s, and then snow storms in the teens. As our parking lot begins to thaw, and the plow piles melt away, I find myself enjoying the sights and smells of spring. For my trivia buffs, here are some fun facts about spring, and why it is so great turning the calendar page over to warmer weather. Thanks to factretriever.com. Enjoy!

  • The first day of spring is called the vernal equinox. The term vernal is Latin for “spring” and equinox is Latin for “equal night.” The word “season” is from the Latin sationem meaning “sowing” or “seed time.”
  • The fall and spring equinoxes are the only two times during the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west. The first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere is the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • On the first day of spring, a person at the North Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, beginning six months of uninterrupted daylight. A person at the South Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, signaling the start of six months of darkness.
  • If Pope Gregory XIII would not have established the Gregorian calendar, which most of the world now observes, in 1582, then every 128 years the vernal equinox would have come a full calendar day earlier, eventually putting Easter in midwinter.
  • Spring almost always arrives on March 20 or 21, but sometimes on the 19th. The reason the equinoxes and solstices don’t always come on the same day is that Earth doesn’t circle the sun in exactly 365 days.
  • While the spring equinox typically occurs on March 20 or 21, meteorological spring begins on March 1, a month when average temperatures increase by 10 degrees over the month.
  • A flurry of gorgeous birds migrating back from South America and the southern US will be flying to your very own backyard. Species like the pine warbler, hooded warbler, Vesper sparrow and common yellowthroat will arrive as early as March, and every week, more and more species will arrive until late May. During the spring migration, a feeder might be a useful source of food for traveling birds.
  • During the spring, birds are more vocal as they sing to attract mates and warn away rivals. Look for an increase in red-winged blackbirds. Just like lots of teen age boys and girls!
  • Children actually grow faster in the spring than during other times of the year.
  • If Earth rotated on an axis perpendicular to the plane of its orbit around the sun rather than on a 23.4º tilt, there would be no variation in day lengths and no variation in seasons.
  • Pay close attention to those trees in your back yard, because soon, you will begin to notice small buds opening up for pollination. The silver maple is one of the first trees to have their buds fully emerge in the spring time, followed by the red maple in early March. Tiny red and golden flowers will emerge from these buds where fresh, lime green leaves will eventually appear.
  • The first spring flowers are typically lilacs, irises, lilies, tulips, daffodils, and dandelions.
  • Honeybees are more likely to swarm during the spring. They swarm as a way to start new colonies from successful ones. Surprisingly, swarming honeybees are very docile and the most friendly they will ever be all year.
  • The myth that it is possible to balance an egg on its end on the spring equinox is just that: a myth. Trying to balance an oval-shaped object on its end is no easier on the spring equinox than on any other day.
  • In China, the coming of spring coincides with celebrations for the Chinese New Year. The holiday falls on the first day of the first lunar month, in January or February. For the Japanese, the opening of the cherry blossom, Japan’s national flower, in March or April signals the start of spring.
  • The early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising sun on the spring equinox.
  • Every year on the first day of spring, people in Poland gather to burn an effigy and throw it in the river to bid winter farewell.
  • Remember all real Clevelander’s know the “official” start of spring, with the crack of a bat on Opening Day.