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Posted on Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 9:30 a.m.

4 sure signs of spring

By Edward Vielmetti

You may find it difficult to believe that spring is right around the corner, especially when you are shoveling your sidewalks out from the storm and shoveling your driveway out from the plows.

Nevertheless, it is necessary in the first days of February to be confident that by the end of February there will be unmistakable signs of spring.

Maple sugaring

Hudson Mills Metropark is hosting Journey to the Sugar Bush, a guided tour of maple syrup tapping and production with a pancake breakfast. Call (734) 426-8211 to reserve your place; tours are held Feb. 26 and 27, and on weekends during March.

If you were thinking ahead about spring back in September, as community contributor Linda Diane Feldt would have suggested, you would have already identified suitable trees to tap. Sue Talbert wrote about her first year of maple sugaring last year.

Don't tap the trees yet - they are still frozen - but it's not too soon to hunt for tree tapping hardware so you are ready.

Spring baseball

The Detroit Tigers spring baseball opening day is Feb. 25 in Lakeland, Fla. against the Florida Southern College Mocs. See the Tigers spring training home schedule, and note that tickets are available now.

The University of Michigan baseball schedule shows a first game against Louisville on Feb. 18 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Their home opener is March 25 against Michigan State University. Download their schedule poster and circle the days.

If you can't wait for spring, consider blooper ball, a winter softball game played with a kickball as a ball and any suitable stick as a stick. See video from the Negaunee, Mich. blooper ball tournament if you need inspiration.

Paczki Day

Paczki Day is March 8, 2011. Paczki Day is an annual Polish-American celebration of Fat Tuesday, celebrated in other places as Mardi Gras. I did a comprehensive Paczki Day roundup last year, and it's not too soon really to be thinking ahead to that.

If you can't wait for paczki, donuts are the next best thing. The Arborwiki donuts page is comprehensive on the topic, as only a local encyclopedia can be.


Bob Hicok's poem A Primer (The New Yorker, May 15, 2008) is essential annual reading.

The state joy is spring.

“Osiris, we beseech thee, rise and give us baseball”

is how we might sound were we Egyptian in April,

when February hasn’t ended. February

is thirteen months long in Michigan.

We are a people who by February

want to kill the sky for being so gray

and angry at us. “What did we do?”

is the state motto.

Hicok was born in Grand Ledge and ran a tool and die business serving the auto industry; he now teaches at Virginia Tech.

Edward Vielmetti enjoys February year-round for Reach him at


Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

Great poem, thanks. The white-throated sparrow is claiming "spring's here". He is a liar or an optimist. I vote for the second.

Linda Diane Feldt

Fri, Feb 4, 2011 : 4:32 a.m.

Maple syrup is Michigan's first crop each year. Conditions are usually "ripe" near the end of February to start collecting. All it takes is warm days (above freezing) and cold nights (below freezing). Just a couple weeks away...