The day dawned dreary, but we welcomed its arrival. The vernal equinox. The start of something good.


March 21, 1998|By Ken Fuson A debut

Magic carpet

Look at it. So green. Not dark green, or forest green, or the top of a pool table green, but the kind of green that makes you want to go barefoot and walk on it, run on it, leap and slide and make diving one-handed catches on it.

Amazing. It's the middle of March, and spring is already here, at the ballpark, where the warm winter has left the field green. Not light green, or greenish-brown, or green just in patches. The whole field -- all 100,000 square feet of it -- is as green as you could possibly want on the first day of spring.

Opening Day green.

But here's the greatest thing, the reason we know spring is here. Somewhere on that green field in Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a single weed. "We've got it," the head groundskeeper promises.

A week from Sunday -- just eight days! -- the Orioles return from Florida for an exhibition game. The field will be green, and the weed, like winter, will be gone.

The unnamed colt circles the mare, whose dramatic work occurred St. Patrick's Day at night. On teen-aged-boy legs, the spring colt nuzzles under the mare, seeking sustenance.

In this unmarked stall at Corbett Farm in Monkton, the colt stood for the first time just 20 minutes removed from the mare. Vet-cleared the next morn. Doe-eyed and scared of nothing to this day. The foal grows in clumsy leaps and bounds -- playing and banging about, this new creature.

Everything out of proportion; everything in balance.

We step out for five minutes to feel the warming sun and to hear the barn swallows filibuster. Air is fresh enough to bite. Where are the flies?

Back in the stall, the colt executes a perfect roll in the hay. Twitching like a dreaming dog, the foal dozes. The mare takes a swipe at his flank with her tongue. Then another, following her instincts to the letter of nature.

This is the way.

Rob Hiaasen

Under cover

At water's edge on Middle River on spring's first morning, you can see your breath but not the sun. Fog settled down during the night and stayed, sitting low on the water, casting gray reflections onto what seems a vast mud pool. Behind the great shroud, sun shines. And somewhere at the other end of the mud pool, miles down river, lie the bay, ocean, other temptations. Spring beckons, but from vast distance.

At Buedel's and Markley's marinas there's an impulse to hush, lest you wake boats dozing under blue and white covers. These shrouds at least are lifting.

Under the 39-foot sloop Shanty Irish, Rick Palleschi wears a filter mask, sands the hull mirror-smooth. He has been at it for months, refitting his boat for the Annapolis-to-Bermuda race in June. The finish line lies more than 700 nautical miles away -- beyond the fog, the mud and chill of spring's first day.

Arthur Hirsch


The color of spring is a pale, pale green -- a wispy, barely there, chlorophyll-deprived hue.

Yesterday, one could find this green in great abundance ... in the mall. Pale green T-shirts at the Gap crowded out the darker, chunkier colors of winter. Pale green suede shoes stood ready in Nordstrom. Ann Taylor stocked pale green socks. Crate & Barrel invited a rest-stop on chairs with plaid green pads.

But what to call this ubiquitous color? Ann Taylor struggled gamely: "That's called malachite or light malachite. We also have one called creme de menthe. Or here's one -- leek."

"How about celadon?" suggested Jones & Jones.

"Believe it or not, it's called pale green," says the Gap.

And it's all we have, until the real thing comes along.

Laura Lippman

The missing Spring

Friday morning, Spring was a no-show.

"Where's Spring?" people asked. "Anyone seen Spring?"

They wanted Spring in the office, and who could blame them? This Spring -- Bill Spring of Catonsville -- sounds like a decent guy. A guy who treats co-workers to pizza on special occasions. A guy who owns a "Dilbert" Day-by-Day calendar. A guy who never wears a tie to work.

"The "Dilbert" calendar is locked in his desk," a colleague moaned. "We won't get to see it today."

Spring, a stickler for privacy? Not really. He'd cleared off his desk in anticipation of the big day:

New office cubicle dividers.

"They showed up overnight," said his colleague. "Pale brown."

But Spring, a computer database administrator, never showed. Did he quit? Get -- gasp -- fired?

No, said Spring, who'll turn 40 tomorrow. Just a Spring family crisis.

"My son started throwing up at 2 in the morning."

Ah, the rites of Spring.

Lisa Pollak

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