It happens every year, just like the groundhog looking for his shadow, but it doesn't always happen on the same date. Sometimes it comes and then goes away again for days or weeks. I look forward to it because I know it will always surprise me. One morning, usually in late February or early March, I'll walk out of my apartment building and there it is, even in the heart of New York City--vague, ellusive, a mere hint, but it is there all the same: the smell of spring. I can't exactly describe this smell, but mostly, it is the smell of dirt, of fresh soil, which brings with it the promise of the buds and flowers and all that good stuff coming back to life. I love the spring, it is my favorite season of the year. It means that green is coming back in our grey lives, it means the bountiful produce of summer is coming, it means that women shed their overcoats and we can see some flesh again (legs, legs, New York women have the best legs, and man, do they know how to use them).
But more than anything this smell means one vital thing: baseball.
I caught a hint of the smell this morning, a relatively mild, overcast day in Manhattan. I was half-asleep. Was I still dreaming? Maybe it was the rain from last night. Whatever, it makes the baseball season seem that much closer. For a wonderful look at the boys of spring, check out this picture gallery at the New York Times' website. It features 16, evocative, very strongline-drawings by Robert Weaver, who kept a sketchbook for Sports Illustrated during a 1962 spring training visit.