Ray Duckler: Time to spring ahead and melt away the past
The man who plays guitar for a living feels it. So do several women yearning for colorful clothing, and a pair of men preparing for the upcoming youth baseball season.
Do you feel it? Do you feel that spring has sprung, that the frigid temps and silver-dollar-sized snowflakes are done at last?
The good news is today marks daylight saving time. The bad news is the month of March is a tease here. March represents the lover who betrays us, the restaurant with delicious portions that are too small, the Red Sox in September, before 2004.
Downtown Friday, the digital sign read a toasty 37 degrees when the Main Street clock across the street approached 2 p.m.
Near the clock, under the black arch at Eagle Square, stood Kevin Clark, a fixture in the city, picking and strumming his acoustic guitar, hopeful that folks walking by will toss money into his open cooler.
Throw him a few coins or even make eye contact with him and Clark will greet you with a warm smile and a slight, slow nod. He lives in a campground, somewhere off Manchester Street.
Good luck finding someone who appreciates nice weather more than this guy.
“Love it, love it,” Clark said, laughing. “People come out when it gets warmer. Today, I’ve done okay. It’s supposed to hit 50 (this weekend) from last I heard.”
Clark says he’s missed about two months of playing time this winter, since the start of December. His coolest performance: 18 degrees.
“Haven’t been out here all that much,” Clark said.
Swing by Memorial Field and winter’s cruelty is everywhere. Snow piles, pushed against the fence near the snow-covered football field, stand side by side, forming a local mountain range.
Workers can be seen in the distance near a huge crane, sprucing up the press box behind Doane Diamond, home to baseball teams all summer.
Tryouts for Concord Northeast Little League are set for March 24 and 25 at the Concord Sports Center, an indoor facility featuring year-round instruction.
But indoor ball is one thing. Playing outside this time of year is quite another.
Will Little League and Babe Ruth teams begin on time, at Grappone Park and Sanel Field and other youth parks? Little League schedules are not out yet, but the season generally opens the second or third week of April.
That’s in four to five weeks.
“I’m very optimistic,” said Adam Fennelly, vice president of the Concord Northeast Little League. “There’s a lot of snow here, I know, but I think good weather is around the corner, and despite what the weather usually is around here, we tend to get the opening games off on schedule.”
Fred Caruso coaches the Winnisquam Regional High School baseball team. He checks the weather each morning on his cell phone.
“I have a habit of hitting the 10-day forecast to see if there are any 50-degree days coming up, and it’s pretty depressing,” Caruso said. “And I see a couple of chances for snow next week.”
He continued: “I washed my car this morning, and it’s already dirty. But I did it for my psyche, to make me feel better, to feel springy. Maybe there will be more sunlight, and maybe that will take a little bite out of the snowpacks.”
That will take time, but we’re getting there. In fact, Fabulous Looks Boutique finally had the conditions to announce its Frank Lyman Design Friday on a sign in front of the shop.
“Three days in a row at over 30 degrees is a big deal,” said Sherry Spurr, owner of the downtown business. “We do two or three weeks of our cruise wear, and that gets people thinking of warm weather. We can decorate the shop with a warmer weather feel.”
That includes colors. Isn’t it about time, ladies, to put away those dark shades in favor of a clothing kaleidoscope?
Bill Peterson, office manager at Gondwana and Divine Clothing, got into the spirit by naming the colors that look great this time of year: spring green, cornflower blue, grapefruit.
“We always have customers coming in who are looking for something to brighten up their attitude,” Peterson said. “It sort of will uplift their spirits. They think spring can’t be that far off because of the clothes and colors here.”
Customer Sandy Turgeon of Concord walked out of Gondwana after a little winter therapy.
“This is how it affects women,” Turgeon said. “They go and buy clothes. I think this winter makes people feel very depressed, and I think you go shopping because you want to anticipate spring and you want to look better.”
Turgeon carried a store bag with three shirts – one green, two purple.
“I have a date tonight,” she said.
Over at Lilise Designer Resale, owner Ellen Lessard looks for consignors, the lifeblood of her business. This year, with the brutal winter hanging on, her spring inventory is down.
“When it starts feeling warm, a lot of ladies take their winter items out of the closet and replace them with spring merchandise, and that makes them go through and ask, ‘What do I have, what can I bring to Lilise?’ ” Lessard said. “But they’re not willing to do that just yet because it’s not feeling like spring. They’re not going through their wardrobes yet.”
It’s time. Don’t you think?
Back at Eagle Square, Clark kept strumming and picking as the temperature dipped into the mid-30s. It still felt warm, though.
“I learned a new song over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “It’s a song I always wanted to learn.”
He started playing “Here Comes the Sun,” released by the Beatles in 1969.
And a welcome tune the other day on Main Street, too.