That darn Punxsutawney Phil seems to have been right about six more weeks of winter. Snow piles still loom over parked cars in area lots, icicles hang off drains pouts and flurries fill the February air.
Winter is clearly not quite done with us, much to the delight of local skiers, snowboarders and snowmobile enthusiasts, who are enjoying one of their best winters in recent memory.
So not to shortchange those who love the cold air and powdery snow, here are some clear signs of spring for those of us who may be suffering from a little cabin fever:
n The Winter Olympics are winding down, though the Games certainly make the white stuff look like lots of fun, filling us with national pride over the United States' lead in the medal count and the amazing gold, silver and bronze-medal moments. The often-aired television commercials for British Columbia showing the beautiful Canadian countryside sans-snow are just as appealing as the sweeping shots of whitewashed winter landscapes.
n The NASCAR season is finally under way, with two Cup races in the books, and plenty of story lines already surfacing. Jamie McMurray's underdog win at Daytona was an exciting kickoff to the season, as was the second-place run of the hard-charging Dale Earnhardt, Jr. As the mercury rises through the spring months, so will pressure and the tempers, as teams race for the Chase.
n March 8 marks the first official day for high school spring sports practice, just as the PIAA basketball, wrestling and swimming & diving championships reach their states of madness. Many spring sports teams are already holding voluntary workouts in weight rooms, gyms and high school hallways around the region.
n The boys of summer have already reported to their warm-weather destinations, getting ready for the 2010 baseball campaign. The Pittsburgh Pirates' first spring training game is just a week away. Lots of locals look forward to reading Jim Lane's Mirror snippets about where he has dinner and who he sees on the sidelines at the Bucs' training camp in Bradenton, another local early spring tradition.
n Down on the farm, the Altoona Curve are inviting you to try out to be one of their mascots this baseball season, making Steamer, Diesel Dawg or Al Tuna your alter-ego for the hometown crowds. Get your mascot on for the auditions Saturday at noon at St. Rose of Lima Maria Parish Center.
n Spring brings us the conclusion of some sports, with the NBA and NHL championships, but also the crack of little league bats, the swish of tennis rackets and the swing of golf clubs.
n In just a few short weeks, sports will pop up on green fields around the region, as cabin fever gives way to spring fever.
Goodman can be reached at Kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.