Short and sweet

The Covington News - - Front page -

Af­ter the long­est and cold­est win­ter sea­son in re­cent mem­ory, what ap­pears to be a short and sweet spring is here. My neigh­bor’s Brad­ford pear trees­blos­somed­lastSatur­day af­ter­noon right be­fore my eyes as I watched the NCAA “Sweet 16” bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment. Re­al­iz­ing that it ap­peared to be snow­ing out­side, in dis­be­lief I went over to the win­dow; there I found the blan­ket of white fill­ing my field of vi­sion to be those Brad­ford blos­soms bil­low­ing in a fairly strong breeze, looking for all the world like the snows we ex­pe­ri­enced ear­lier in the year.

Then, last Tues­day morn­ing, all ap­peared nor­mal when I headed out for the day’s ac­tiv­i­ties. But when I re­turned home that af­ter­noon, how­ever, those evil, threat­en­ing, bur­geon­ing yel­low pollen pods had ap­peared in the pine trees. Just like that! I checked them again this morn­ing, and they’re as swollen as they can be, ready to burst forth with what prom­ises to be swirling clouds of pine pollen.

I be­lieve a visit to load up on an­ti­his­tamine is in short or­der.

The good news is that if the pine trees and Brad­ford pears are show­ing new signs of life, the dog­woods and aza­leas will be along shortly. Af­ter all, it’s Easter Sun­day morn­ing, and with Easter comes the great­est golf tour­na­ment in the world, The Mas­ters. Au­gusta Na­tional will be in full bloom and blos­som this week, CBS will un­doubt­edly play syrupy theme mu­sic against back­ground shots of aza­leas in “Amen Cor­ner,” and golf fans will watch the world’s great­est golfers am­ble around the world’s most beau­ti­ful golf course, writ­ing an­other chap­ter in leg­end.

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nick­laus will serve as honorary starters this year. I imag­ine that there will be more than a few young folks present who will fid­get as what ap­pears to them to be two old codgers get­ting in the way of the real golfers. I won­der how many of what is touted as “the most knowl­edge­able gallery in golf” re­mem­ber “Arnie’s Army” and “the Golden Bear.” Do they re­mem­ber the crackle of elec­tric­ity when Arnie would crank a drive out there, hitch up his slacks, and mount an­other charge up the fair­way? Has any­one ever known Au­gusta as well as Jack?

Con­tem­po­rary fans de­bate if Tiger Woods will re­turn. It’s ir­rel­e­vant. Arnie and Jack led the way without scan­dal for more than half a cen­tury. In­tegrity stands the test of time.

And then, just like that, it’ll be over. Short and sweet. The aza­lea blos- soms will start turn­ing brown, will wilt and fall off, and Ge­or­gians will get ready for a long, hot sum­mer.

But if The Mas­ters is upon us, so then must be Open­ing Day for Ma­jor League Base­ball. Bobby Cox, in my view one of the game’s very best of all time, has an­nounced that this will be his fi­nal sea­son manag­ing the At­lanta Braves.

At the helm since 1990, Cox has presided over a re­mark­able string of con­sec­u­tive divi­sion cham­pi­onships, un­sur­passed in any pro­fes­sional sport. The Braves have all the pieces in place, and none would like an­other cham­pi­onship more than Bobby Cox in his fi­nal sea­son.

Twenty years. How can it be that two full decades have come and gone since Bobby Cox in­her­ited the worst team in base­ball, play­ing in old At­lantaFul­ton County Sta­dium? When you think of the cat­a­clysmic changes to our na­tion, and the world, while Bobby Cox was on duty with the Braves, those decades seem any­thing but short and sweet.

Ge­orge H. W. Bush. Desert Shield. Bill Clin­ton. Bos­nia. Mon­ica. Im­peach­ment. At­lanta’s 1996 Olympics. Sub­prime junk bond mortgages. En­ron. Ge­orge W. Bush. Sept. 11, 2001. Sad­dam Hus­sein. Weapons of mass de­struc­tion. Iraqi Free­dom. “No Child Left Be­hind.” Al Gore warm­ing the globe. Martha Ste­wart in prison. Sum­mer Olympics in Red China. Gitmo. Afghanistan. TARP. Barack Obama. Hope and change. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Health care. A di­vided, an­gry na­tion. Record un­em­ploy­ment. And that’s just the short list.

But all is not lost. Spring brings with it the prom­ise of a fresh start, and hope that burns eter­nally in the hu­man heart.

In my for­ma­tive years I served as an acolyte in Greens­boro’s tiny Epis­co­pal Church of the Redeemer. Af­ter our early wor­ship ser­vice, I’d at­tend Sun­day school and sing in the choir at the First Methodist a few blocks away.

One Easter Sun­day, as I squirmed un­der my vest­ments wor­ry­ing about rush­ing to the Methodist ser­vice, our Epis­co­palian min­is­ter de­liv­ered a most mean­ing­ful ser­mon which, in its sim­plic­ity, stopped me in my tracks.

“Je­sus Christ is risen to­day,” he said. “Al­leleu­jah!”

Short and sweet, and stand­ing the test of time, in­deed.

Happy Easter to you and yours, friend.

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