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My Nikkel's Worth

We can finally say that spring is in the air and is upon us, presaging the favourite time of year for most Canadians, the one other than winter: "spr-ummer-all".
Greg Nikkel

We can finally say that spring is in the air and is upon us, presaging the favourite time of year for most Canadians, the one other than winter: "spr-ummer-all".

That's not a word, you say? Well, only because it hasn't entered general usage yet; give it time, I think it has potential. (And let's face, spring and summer kind of blend together and can run late into the fall.)

And it's been officially spring for over a month, you also say?

Well, technically, yes, it has been, and the snow we had has sunk into the ground and revived the Souris into an actual river once more.But only in the last little while has it felt like spring, with two unmistakable signs that are even more obvious than robins or giant Vs of geese heading north.I speak of, one, the massive volume of garden stuff at every store of any size, with soil, bedding plants, seeds and flowers, and the equipment and fertilizer and everything that goes with it. For gardeners, this must be heavenly; they can rake up the dead leaves of last year, and aerate the lawn, and get the soil broken up in the garden and ready for planting.It ought to be noted, as at the time I'm writing this Alberta is getting loads of heavy, wet snow, it's foolhardy to plant anything living before the May long weekend. You can try, of course, if the soil is warm enough for seeding, but as far as putting plants in, like flowers, you're gambling that some of that white stuff won't come our way.The second unmistakable sign would be the Stanley Cup playoffs (some pundits would say it's also a sign of summer …), which are now well into the second round. Our office, like many others I'm sure around the city and across this land, has a pool of sorts going.

I've been in pools where you go through the long lists of player names and you draft, say, 10 players, or 15 players, and you watch through the playoffs anxiously as their points pile up, groaning each time you lose one as their team is defeated. It's not easy putting together a pool list like this, unless you've fanatically followed players and teams all through the season.This time, I'm in a pool where you pick which teams you think are going to win and advance through; I did okay in the first round, but I'll have to do even better in this round if I'm going to survive in the latter rounds.For non-sports fans, none of this makes sense; this isn't the time of year for ice and pucks and skating. It's the time of year to get out the bicycles, go for walks, fly a kite, get out the soccer cleats or baseball glove and bat, and enjoy the outdoors.And yes, it's true, this is the optimum time of year for all of that. But hey, we're Canadians, and fresh off an amazing Winter Olympics, we now get to follow the players who excited us at Vancouver and see how their NHL teams perform in the playoffs. And while it may not seem like it, eventually the playoffs do end, or so I've heard.