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Opinion: Bill Walton, Hope Springs Eternal

It must be spring – the Leafs are out.
Sweetman Iris

A spring riddle: what is white, quick, and hops like crazy? A ground ball to the shortstop.

Anyone who has tried to cover the area between second and third in the springtime when the frost has left bumps in the field knew that. In the professional leagues, the Jays have been swapping runs with the Yankees well before the snow left our northern clime. Their infields are as smooth as a – you know what I mean.

Spring is that hopeful time of the year. The urge to plant annuals before the last frost hits all new gardeners and this is a spring bonus for the garden shops. The shops tempt us with tomato plants, already tall in their containers with wireframes that will not deter the chipmunks from sampling the first pink tomato. Grandpa always said not to plant tender things until after the full moon in late June and the Farmer’s Almanac concurred.

Margaret Attwood, our Canadian iconic writer says “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” My neighbour was out on the long weekend moving perennials, adding annuals, and uprooting weeds – appearing as happy as a clam at high tide.

The Weed Warriors have already prepared their ribbon flowerbed at the waterfront, ready for the pink petunias. The Warriors themselves are already on Trout Lake (the first paddle practice was cancelled because of snow) getting ready for the summer paddling and racing season. Two new Warriors have joined the team and they will be ready for the Montreal festival. The coach says we will be in competitive festival form. Yes, hope does spring eternal.

This was in evidence as the powers at City Hall announced they were convening to look at a 10-year plan. One must commend them for their commitment to capital project planning, but 10 years? I hope they wrote this on a restaurant napkin because too much changes in 10 years to chisel these things in stone. Here at the Condo, we work on a Reserve Fund plan that looks far, far into the future so we can have the funds tucked away to meet the estimated capital maintenance costs of the future. But we know that we must update that study every few years because, as my friend says, life happens. Good luck even planning for 3 years.

Plans, no matter how meticulously studied, do fall prey to outside change. Covid disrupted everything from supply chain issues to labour shortages and then inflationary pressures. Deferring projects may seem like a solution to the supply chain issues but the price of inflation on both labour and materials was evident in the Main Street reconstruction (delayed for 1 year). Heaven only knows what the final costs (inflation-adjusted) will be for the complex in the southern reaches of the city. And deferring the project could deflate our (Council’s) dreams of the Taj as inflationary costs exceed the interest earned on the funds set aside for the twin pads.

Oh, and about those early dandelions: you can cut off their yellow heads with your mower, but you cannot stop spring from coming.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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