Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 3, 2014

From Flat Top to Middle Earth, a celebration of spring continues


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Sometimes I step out on my porch before deciding which coat or jacket I’ll need for the day. If the temperature’s not too chilly and there isn’t much wind, I opt for a jacket. If it’s cold outside, I’ll grab my heavier coat and maybe a hat and scarf, too.

A new option appeared Wednesday morning. I stepped outside and decided I didn’t need a coat or jacket. The morning was warm and there was only a slight breeze. Maybe the last snow we had Sunday really was the last breath of winter. I was visiting my parents Sunday, and the snow that greeted the world when I woke up wasn’t welcome. Fortunately, the sun came out and melted most of it off by the afternoon, so the snow wasn’t so bad this time. I keep hearing that major snowstorms are possible in early April, but I keep thinking “say it ain’t so!”

I’m seeing encouraging signs of spring. Road work is getting underway — the pothole filling season has arrived — so we’re seeing more crews out in their yellow vests. People are starting to wear short sleeve shirts. I haven’t taken that step yet, but I feel that the time to switch out my sparse wardrobe is coming up fast. Short sleeve shirts and long sleeve shirts will change closets. The winter boots will be put away and I won’t have to see winter coats or scarves for months. Sweat shirts won’t be a worry, but I’ll have to find my sunscreen.

A primary election also comes with the spring. Candidate signs are sprouting like so many colorful mushrooms, so everybody should be familiar with every candidate’s name by the time the May primary arrives.

 County officials are already telling campaign workers where those signs can be placed and how many days they have after the election to take them down. I’m seeing these signs and other sights by the light of an evening sun I haven’t seen in months. Now I have a chance to actually drive home in daylight when my day is done. My night vision isn’t getting better with age, so driving home in the sunshine is a welcome relief. I can actually see where I am going.

A lot of our work takes us outdoors. That’s one thing I like about the news business, the prospect of not being cooped up indoors all day. This plus isn’t such a plus when winter is in full force. I remember one day when photographer Eric DiNovo and I had to visit Flat Top for a story. I forgot to bring a hat and I almost gave myself hypothermia. How low was the temperature that day? Winterplace was using the opportunity to make snow. The day was freezing, and so was I. Then you have to worry about icy roads when you’re traveling to get a story, and then you have the commute home. I’ve had to drive home and see other vehicles stuck in ditches or snow drifts. My Dad taught me a lot about winter driving, and I really appreciate those lessons now.

We’ll still have to do a lot of driving, but it won’t be during blinding snowstorms and ice storms. Soon I’ll have to worry about my car getting too hot and keeping the windows down a crack so I won’t suffocate when I climb aboard, but I prefer that to scraping frost off my windows and repeatedly brushing snow off my car. One day a few months back, I had to clean off my car more than three times. Every time I returned to my car, it was covered with snow again.

Snow isn’t covering my front porch or my parking space, either. My snow shovel, hopefully, can be put away for now. Now I can actually open my apartment’s windows and let fresh air in the place. Electric heat’s OK, but it’s also dry, too. My snake, Alice, likes dry heat, but I’m not a reptile contrary to some opinions. I’m tired of the static electricity and wearing big sweatshirts to keep my power bill from getting too high.

I’m also tired of doing all my exercising indoors. The gym is fine, but I need actual fresh air and sunshine. I want to get out a hiking stick and go for an actual hike without worrying about frost bite or hypothermia.

A few days ago, I was watching “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” and found myself envying Thorin & Company. Yes, they were being pursued by orcs riding giant mutant wolves, but they were still outdoors! If I ever have the chance, I’d love to visit New Zealand and hike. I’ll check out the hiking trails at our state parks and imagine hiking through the Misty Mountains of Middle Earth. The Appalachian Mountains get more than misty, so it’s not a big leap of the imagination.

Hopefully, my celebration of spring won’t be premature, and we won’t see any more snow until winter arrives again. We’re all ready for sunshine and weather we can let into our homes, and we’re ready to put up the snow blowers and get out the lawnmowers. Yes, we will see bugs, sunburns, and those assorted problems, but at least we won’t have to worry about getting up in the morning and scraping off our cars.

 Greg Jordan is the Daily Telegraph’s senior reporter. Contact him at gjordan@bdtonline.com