Some good reasons to think spring

The calendar says that spring starts Wednesday.

The Vernal Equinox is March 20, 2013. But as a wise friend reminded me, the first day of spring and the first “spring day” may unfortunately be weeks apart.

So, as the snow, sleet and freezing rain continue to blow outside my window, and with all due respect to ski lovers, I choose to close my eyes and dream of the days to come … and some recreational reasons to “think spring” in Central Pa.:

* Watching the sun set and then fireworks light up the sky during an Altoona Curve baseball game.

* Watching the sun rise on cool mornings while mountain biking on any of the great trails in Central Pa.; ramping up from the more relaxing ride to the more challenging Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake.

* Following the Penn State Lady Lion basketball team to (hopefully) to an April appearance in the NCAA Final Four.

* College, high school, fastpitch, slowpitch, co-ed, rec, ASA, USA and any other kind of softball.

* Presidential visits and women’s clinics at the Old Course at the Omni Bedford Springs: Golf Magazine’s number-one rated course in Pennsylvania.

* Freshly-broiled trout after a good day of fly fishing.

* Batting cages at the Meadows (not to mention the frozen custard, a favorite of Little Leaguers.)

* High school track and field, and the hard work required to take area athletes from the Igloo Invitational to the PIAA Championships.

* The roar of race engines at dirt tracks around the region.

* Altoona-Tipton Speedway go-cart racing and mini-golf at DelGrosso’s, plus ice cream and Murf’s potato salad (not necessarily in that order.)

* Penn State Blue-White football and all related activities (never too early to look forward to fall and football.)

* Camping, bowling, swimming and everything else at the Park at Morrisons Cove.

* Spring gobbler season, including the April 20 junior hunters and mentored youth day.

* Paddle boating with the friendly ducks at Lakemont Park.

* T-Ball, Little League, Legion, AAABA and every other kind of baseball.

* Opening of Blair County’s first off-leash dog park, recreation for our four-legged friends!

* High school boys tennis and boys volleyball, though the indoor event doesn’t rely on the more mild temperatures.

* That warm feeling at the start of the Major League Baseball season when the Pirates are in the hunt; that undying hope that this is the year the Bucs finally get back to the playoffs.

* Canoeing and campfires.

For now, the parks are still frosty, the fields sloppy with snow. High school athletes are doing what they can, working out in gymnasiums or bundled up on chilly afternoons. But soon, sweatshirts will give way to T-shirts and the longer, warmer days will have us soaking up the sun. In the meantime, we can hold onto our thoughts of spring, until Mother Nature catches up to the calendar.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Her column appears on Tuesdays.