Editor's Desk - March 2013
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Spring Marches Along, Just Like Always

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"      — Percy Bysshe Shelley

In February, it finally started snowing around here. And now, not only is it finally snowing, but it's finally staying cold long enough for the snow to stick around. For new snow to cover old snow.

Of course, this means that most of my acquaintances are now complaining about how winter is so never-ending. How February is so long and drab. Cabin fever has taken hold, and no one wants it to be winter anymore. February is the shortest month, and March brings spring, but with snow on the ground and in the forecast, no one seems to remember it.

At the same time, I've seen early signs of spring's impending arrival—out on my walks through the forest preserves and outside my window at home. There are the cardinals, who've begun calling as soon as the sun hits the tops of the trees in the morning. They sound like some sort of videogame kamikaze pilots out there. As the sun rises a bit higher, they're joined by the red-bellied woodpeckers, which nest in the tree out back. Speaking of the sun, have you noticed? It's definitely staying up longer. Even though the reversal begins in late December, it's not until February that I really notice the lengthening of the days.

In a couple of weeks, I'll start watching out for winter aconite, which is the first flower to pop open in my yard. Of course, one warm sunny day is usually enough to do it in. Winter aconite likes it cold. Along the river, I've seen a couple of wood ducks, which don't usually arrive until March, but have put in an early appearance. And it's just a matter of time before the sandhill cranes perform the annual fly-by—way up high and making a racket.

And then, it'll be time to clear out the garden and start putting in the early veggies—peas and lettuce, radishes and so on.

Spring also brings new programs and events to the community—via parks and schools, health clubs and Ys. Every recreation, sports and fitness facility has its own ways of celebrating spring, whether it's the park-district-run community garden plots that suddenly burst with activity, or the baseball diamond where the crack of a bat on a ball is one of the happiest sounds of the year. Fun runs, festivals, Easter bunny breakfasts—the list goes on and on.

At the same time, just as the garden needs clearing out and tending in the early spring, spring can be a time for tending your facilities. As the weather warms, many facility managers will begin to implement plans for facelifts and renovations, for new construction and installation of new equipment. Winter gives most of us a chance to rest and let things roll, but once spring's arrived, work picks up—the maintenance of buildings and park sites, the tending of sports fields, the attention required to get aquatic centers up and running again in time for the summer season.

This month, we've got a handful of stories that will help you manage your facilities no matter what the season is, from a focus on new trends in climbing walls (see page 16) to the best ways to handle risk management (see page 24). And if you've got programming on your mind, check out our features on out-of-the-ordinary sports (pickleball, anyone?—turn to page 20) and best practices in planning day trips (see page 28).

No matter the weather—and no matter how many times it still plans to snow—spring will arrive. It always does. And summer will be hard on its heels. Isn't it great to know that some things remain predictable as ever?


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management