Spring cleaning, Part 2: A few more notes to collect in one place - like those sticks you've been picking up in your yard - before too much time gets away.
This week in our county, spring has been passing from its fragile stage, where you imagine that a stiff gust or two could blow it back into February, into its inevitable stage, bringing the season's embarrassment of riches in kinds, colors and numbers beyond counting.
All springs bear celebrating, but some more than others. I remember the spring following the drought of 1988 as a particularly welcome one. One morning during a week much like this one - during the fragile-to-inevitable transition - I drove down what's known in Clark County as the Grand Turn Road, which veers off Illinois Route 1 and makes its way toward West Union the long way around. I stopped on a bridge over a creek branch just to watch the water, which had been so scarce a few months before, and the shadows of thousands of new leaves playing on it.
And, yes, it was only a few days until the weather folks on TV were saying things like, "When will the rain ever end?" These days, with too little time to do too many "important" things, it probably should not surprise us that gratitude is one of the things that gets shorted.
I don't know if Thanksgiving would be any better celebrated if it were in the spring, but to me this is the better season for it. Spring is all about unlimited potential and new life, things that are always worth some gratitude. And, it would drag Thanksgiving out from under the shadow of the Christmas season, which now begins about Halloween. Pass the word - maybe we can start a subversive movement for a spring Thanksgiving.
Spring is also time to visit cemeteries. My wife remembers this being quite an event around Memorial Day each year for her family, when she was a little girl. Without fully comprehending who was an ancestor to whom at that point, it was mainly a fun day in the country for her.
But even a revered tradition like this one is not beyond spoiling, even in our neck of the woods. Joy Mikeworth told me this week of her recent visit from Texas to a local rural cemetery to pay her respects on the one-year anniversary of her daughter's death. As she and members of her family were putting flowers on her grave and her husband's grave, a neighbor of the cemetery came to the fence and shouted, "They're dead - get over it!"
I can't venture an explanation, and neither could she - other than to observe, "What a jerk, huh?"
Along with the news of former Gov. George Ryan's racketeering conviction this week, it was interesting to get e-mails about Ryan's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. You can visit www.stopcapitalpunishment.org to find out more about the campaign to get the prize for Ryan, but the Web site doesn't (yet) say anything about how his conviction and potential imprisonment might affect his chances.
A quick look over the list of Nobel peace laureates shows some have indeed seen the inside of prison walls - from Nelson Mandela in South Africa, to Elie Wiesel in the Holocaust concentration camps - but their imprisonment at least had something to do with their causes. If Ryan were being imprisoned for springing convicts from Death Row, or even if he were being nominated for making the world safe for bad truck drivers, the Nobel jury might have less of a challenge.
It's time for another plug for our rejuvenated What's Happening page, which appears in Saturday's Daily News WeekEnder. It's not just movie reviews anymore; the page now also includes top-10 lists, literary best-sellers, entertainment news and more.
But the best thing is that you can be a part of What's Happening. If you've read a recent book, seen a recent concert or film, or heard a recent CD that you would like our readers to know about, you can submit your own review.
The guidelines can be found under the "Everyone's a Critic" heading on the What's Happening page. Don't be shy - your opinion is just as valuable as ours or anyone else's, or maybe more so.
And remember: The more reviews you submit, the fewer of mine you'll have to read. (Next up: The new CD from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.)