Editor's Desk - February 2009
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Spring Is in the Air?

"A light broke in upon my brain,
It was the carol of a bird;
It ceased, and then it came again.
The sweetest song ear ever heard."

-Lord Byron

In his novel "Cat's Cradle," Kurt Vonnegut explains that in temperate zones, there are really six seasons, rather than four: summer, autumn, locking, winter, unlocking and spring.

This idea has stuck with me ever since I first read the book, and I use it to break winter down so it doesn't seem quite so long. And in fact, I believe in the difference between winter and "unlocking."

In winter, there is cold and silence. Once unlocking begins, you begin to hear birds again, and there is evidence of animals of all kinds getting ready for spring.

Take this recent morning entry from my journal:

January 26, 2009: It's 3 degrees outside. Getting in the car to drive to the office, heard a red-bellied woodpecker call. Can spring be far behind?

OK, OK. I know that technically red-bellied woodpeckers inhabit the Chicago area and points north year-round. But after a long, cold, silent winter, hearing that first call of the year reminded me that spring is, in fact, just a handful of weeks away.

Last spring, a pair took to the dead wood in our back yard and they built a nest there. It was noisy, but wonderful to watch their progress and wait for little woodpeckers to appear.

We may still be in the deep-freeze of winter, but there is evidence of unlocking, and you're likely already thinking about spring, too. After all, the Super Bowl is over, and there's just about two months to go until the 2009 MLB season opens with the Phillies hosting the Braves. So in the interest of providing you with the information you need to get ready for the season, let me introduce our "spring lineup":

Even if your sports fields are buried under inches of snow, that's got to get you thinking about the things you need to do before your own season gets rolling. After all, careful preparation for the season and meticulous maintenance throughout are the keys to green playing fields. Whether your fields are naturally green or you rely on synthetic turf, turn to page 18, where we examine some of the pros and cons of each and then discuss some of the basic maintenance requirements and tools.

While many skateboarders will bring their shovels to the skatepark all winter long so they can continue their sport, that doesn't mean you can just let things roll along through the spring. It's a good time to head out with your maintenance to-do list and make sure the skatepark is still up to par. Turn to page 12 for some advice on keeping your skatepark in top condition. And if you don't have a skatepark yet, we've got some advice on getting one rolling in your community.

Park facilities across the country have surely mailed out their spring program guides—maybe even with some hints of things to come this summer. For some advice on programs you can offer to the under-18 crowd to improve their health and fitness, turn to page 24.

And for those of you who operate swimming pools, waterparks and splash play areas, now is the time to start gearing up for hot fun in the summertime! You may be trying to get your facility up to speed and in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act. Or perhaps you're in need of some new strategies to staff your pool with top-notch lifeguards. Maybe you're looking for ways to ensure your pool is swimming along with the current trends. If so, check out the enclosed supplement, our Guide to Aquatic Centers. You'll find plenty of advice from industry experts and facility directors who've been there and done that.

Now make your to-do list for your own facility. Consider it a spring cleaning, or a spring training—whatever you'd like—but make sure you start getting ready now. It's like the little bird told me, spring is on its way.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director
Recreation Management


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