Happy Valentine’s Day Belated

Banksy Art in Bristol, England, on February 14, 2020

Valentine’s Day has passed us by. Onward we go with spring training and baseball once again. The Phillies started their pitchers’ and catchers’ first workout on the 12th, with the full squad coming together on the 17th. The first preseason game is on the 22nd when the Phils travel to Lakeland, Florida, to play Detroit.

Funny, I had a dream the other night about a 9th-inning grand slam by the Tigers to win the game. Hopefully that won’t be the case with our hometown heroes, and the boys in red will taste the first fruit of victory for the new year from a harvest of bountiful produce throughout the season, while capturing the World Series Championship ultimately in October! Do I hear a “Here, here,” for that? Pardon the purple prose.

This winter is flying by, thank goodness. It’s not my favorite season. Yet, we’ve been spared the brutality it can bring. This past overnight in Philadelphia was the coldest it’s been since 2011-12, dipping down to 14°F/-10°C. The last cold spell we had this year was at the beginning of January, but that didn’t last long, nor will the present one last much past tomorrow, when temps rise again to feel more like spring.

Surprisingly, we’ve had negligible snow accumulations in the region. The local NWS tweeted this graphic today indicating the lack of white stuff in our area, and showing the precipitation for the rest of the country:

It’s a little hard to read, but you get the idea. The graph shows the nation’s snowfall from late-October 2019 to present.

Did you receive any valentines? My treasure trove this time around was nil unfortunately. I spent Friday afternoon at Lake Luxembourg, seeing the bald eagles mate at one point, which sort of was insult to injury. The lack of acknowledgement made me hark back to grammar school, watching everyone else get Valentine’s Day cards, the type that kids would exchange with one another and maybe a candy heart or two.

Most of the time I would luck out and get a few. The boys didn’t give out any to the girls, though. We felt it wasn’t a very macho thing to do. Man, did we find out later on in life that we’d better, or else!

Lake Luxembourg Nesting Pair of Bald Eagles on February 14, 2020

Speaking of mating, at least humans aren’t like the small marsupials: the little red kalutas. The tiny animals which look similar to gerbils live in Northwestern Australia, and “breed so intensely that an entire generation of males can drop dead in one breeding season,” according to the latest National Wildlife.

Australian scientists reported the species’ “radical reproductive strategy” after a two-year study:

We found that males only mate during one highly synchronized breeding season, and then they all die. Kalutas reach sexual maturity at 10 months and have only a two-week period every year when resources in their arid habitat are abundant enough to sustain reproduction. During these frantic breeding seasons, male kalutas mate with several females for hours at a time until they succumb to exhaustion and die.

Taken from National Wildlife: Volume 58, number 2

Just imagine if that was an evolutionary hangover in humans. We should be happy we’re not black widow spiders in the Southern Hemisphere either, belonging to the genus and species: Latrodectus corallinus, whose females kill their mates after reproducing. With those of the U.S. species: mactans, or the eastern (southern) black widow, the female sometimes kill their mates, but the majority of the males get to see the light of the next day. The L. hesperus females, the black-widow species west of Kansas, have never been observed to kill their mates. I guess all wildlife out west are more laid-back.

Thanks to Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington, for clarifying the information on black widows, about which most people believe the females’ killing of their mates is common throughout the entire group of them.

Next up on the holiday list for the U.S. is Presidents’ Day on this Monday, followed by St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, around which time our beloved ospreys return to my stretch of the Delaware River, starting at Riverton, N.J., and ending at Bristol Borough, Pa.

It signals also the change of seasons and the start of regular baseball on March 19 and 26 respectively; although, for me, the latter is when springtime officially begins. Good luck to the Phillies, and also to my other favorite team, whom I grew up with while living in Northern New Jersey: the Yanks. It would be nice to see a World Series like that of 2009, but with a different result to even things up.

Thanks for your continued support.

Postscript: I failed to mention Fat Tuesday as the next holiday after Presidents’ Day. Falling on the 25th of February this year, the festive occasion may be a little too hedonistic for the likes of many, but for me is a fun excuse to celebrate. Happy Mardi Gras in advance.

Post-Postscript (February 23): The Phillies’ game against Detroit, the first pre-season contest in their Grapefruit League schedule, was a teeth-clencher. Into the 9th inning the score was tied at 8 apiece. Was my dream a premonition, and was Detroit going to win with a walk-off grand slam? Nope, and neither did the Phillies end up victorious, as the game finished in a tie. No extra innings are played during spring training. So happy baseball is back!

About Mike Slickster

As an early retiree with an honorary doctorate degree from the proverbial "School of Hard Knocks," this upcoming author with a lot of free time on his hands utilizes his expansive repertoire for humorous yet tragic, wildly creative writing that contains years of imaginative fantasy, pure nonsense, classic slapstick, extreme happiness and searing heartbreak; gathered by a wealth of personal experiences throughout his thrilling—sometimes mundane or unusually horrid—free-spirited, rock-'n'-roller-coaster ride around our beloved Planet Earth. Mike Slickster's illustrious quest continues, living now in Act Three of his present incarnation, quite a bit on the cutting edge of profundity and philosophical merriment as seen through his colorful characters, most notably evident in the amusing Thirty Days Across the Big Pond series, all of which can be found at Lulu.com.
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