Over the threshold of a new year


Back in October, K and I celebrated my 46th birthday watching Matt Nathanson and Matchbox Twenty perform at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline. Matt opened with the perfect blend of concert, revival, and comedy jam that energized the crowd for Rob Thomas and crew’s last stop on their 20th anniversary tour. The arena went completely black at the same moment a single white spotlight illuminated an empty microphone stand.

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Green with hope

It’s only February 19. It’s only February 19. It’s only February 19. That’s my mantra today, as I attempt to talk myself down from the excitement I felt as I walked through the garden. Signs of spring are everywhere.

Tiny fans of iris (Iris germanica) foliage are starting to green up among the leaves and mulch.

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Of hope…of faith…of tomorrow

Last week, my son came home from school, proud of the new word he learned that day.

“Dad, I know what vernal means,” he beamed.

“You do? What does it mean?” I replied.

“Well, it’s kind of like spring,” he correctly answered.

I smiled and asked him, “Do you know that plant in the backyard that has the yellow-orange, spidery flowers on it? The witch hazel. Well, its real plant name is Hamamelis vernalis, which means it’s a witch hazel that blooms in the spring time.”

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Finding a snowy lining

My alarm went off this morning at 6:45am, the same time it usually does on a Monday morning. But as I rolled over to turn it off, I remembered that this wasn’t an ordinary Monday. It was the first Monday in more than a decade that I wouldn’t be earning any money.

Due to the budget crisis at the university where I’m employed, all faculty and academic staff are mandated to take four unpaid furlough days, one each month from February  through May. It’s a strategy that many universities and other organizations have taken across the nation to deal with staggering shortfalls of revenue. None of us particularly likes losing about four percent of our salary each month this spring, but if it can help the university stay operational and avoid widespread layoffs, I haven’t met a person who isn’t willing to take their fair share of the financial pain.

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