Point of View: Neat’s-Foot Time

You can’t help but be hopeful in the spring

This would be the time of year I’d rub neat’s-foot oil into my mitt, inhale the heady smell, and put in a ball and fasten it with a stiff rubber band.

The mitt now is, as I am, shriveled and stiff, and while there’s little left to crow about, I still sing in the spring.

What’s not to like? Well, the catkins for one, and the pollen for two, and the ticks, but, all things considered, it’s nice to be carried along by the urgency of the season.

You can’t help but be hopeful in the spring. It’s in the natural order of things, building up to the madness of summer (at least out here), the wistfulness of fall (“. . . And gathering swallows twitter in the skies”), and the despair of winter (after the Super Bowl’s been played) before hope leafs out again.

I asked Mary why our surroundings always seem to stand out more in the spring. Was it the light, the air? All of a sudden the tracery of the tree limbs is more evident, and you see in the woods houses you hadn’t seen in the winter. She said that it was because everything was alive.

“Are the birds’ songs all about mating?” I asked her as we were strolling in Maidstone Park  this morning. “Is it their way of saying, ‘Haven’t we met before. . . ? Do you come here often?’ ”

It was low tide, with few signs of minnows, which worried Mary, until she saw some encouraging ripples. The beachscape was gray-green, and the air was still, aside from earth movers churning up the dirt on the infield of the Little League diamond up above, preparing for the season. 

“Ross Gload used to hit home runs into those trees when he was a Little Leaguer,” I said as we cut across right field, a trifle wistfully, wondering for a moment when championship teams would flourish here again — an untimely wish, though, given the ripening beauty that is embracing us.