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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Robins and Mardi Gras forecast spring


I feel as though I haven't blogged in for-ev-er. Just so you know, it hasn't just been the blog I ignored . . . I had a good friend E-mail me and wonder where I was. Been busy with family stuff is the only excuse I can give, hoping no one can argue with that.

For all you snow-bound readers, I'm happy to report that several squadrons of robins have made re-fueling stops on the grassy plains of Mobile Regional Airport. Can Spring be far behind? Probably yes, because I forecast that Groundhog Phil is likely to see his shadow tomorrow if not from the sun, than from all that bright, white snow on the ground in PA.

Mobile is also the source for another early arrival. Fat Tuesday for the year 2011 doesn't officially arrive until March 8, but the celebrations have started where I live. The Wednesday that marks the beginning of Lent may not be a great big deal in the North, but the heavy Spanish and French ancestral influences along the Gulf Coast make Mardi Gras an important holiday--one that warrants not just ashes on the forehead, but days off work and school. Mobile, New Orleans, and Biloxi, Mississippi, all claim to be "THE" first city in the New World to celebrate Mardi Gras. New Orleans probably has the most well-known and maybe the largest, but as to who was first, history and Wikipedia are a little vague on that. Like Christmas, this religious observance has been transformed into an extended major secular event for these cities--the parades start early and, like the Energizer bunny, keep on going and going and going. Knights, Krewes, Kings, Maids, Mullets, Mystics, and Orders try to outdo each other in revelry and moonpie tossing. The Mobile area has already had one parade, and the next one is Feb. 5--the Krewe De La Dauphine Parade on Dauphin Island.

In lieu of hoping to catch one of those extravagant beaded necklaces or a sweetly delicious moonpie on Feb 5, I'll be at a writers' retreat in Northport, Alabama, just north of Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama. (Disclaimer: Disregarding the intense rivalry that exists between the two institutions, especially in football, and at the risk of getting mauled when I next meet up with my son's in-laws, I don't favor either Alabama or Auburn. I'm a baseball fan, specifically for whatever team needs my support at the time.) The Breeze Hill Retreat is short and small--one day, twelve writers--but intense. (Harumph, sounds like me.) I'm hoping to come away with a better idea of how to write for "young adults" since that is my next/ongoing work in process. I'm also hoping the enthusiasm of my fellow retreaters will rub off on me. It's the first of two Gulf Coast writerly events I've scheduled to attend this year. I also have eleven new books to read, "she says optimistically."

A thunderstorm is coming in, so I think I'd better unplug this lightning rod for now. You keep on keeping on and I'll try to do the same.

cj

The Jeff Johnston picture is a trophy necklace from the Knights of Revelry. Their 2011 parade takes place on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), March 8.

Late update, Feb 2: According to his "handlers," the Pennsylvania prognosticator Phurry Phil predicted an early spring. My foot! He should have turned around; the sun was shining in his face.

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