March weather is always a tease. We get a few days of warmth and sun and then more damp and cold and a little more of the white stuff. The fickle weather always takes its toll on spring sports practices, games and tournaments. School administrators are crossing fingers hoping that freezing rain and snow does not result in any more snow days and further headaches for the school calendar.
Transitional weather patterns affect wildlife as well. To the delight of photographers and outdoor enthusiasts, huge flocks of water fowl are flooding the Missouri river basin waiting for better weather to our north. As I reported a couple weeks ago, the arrival of large numbers of the birds was as big a surprise to the DeSoto refuge staff as anyone. Another big a surprise is how long they have stayed around. Every few days I wander across the river to take another look. The sight and sound of three-quarter million or more snow geese is an amazing spectacle. Many visitors to the refuge, including me, have posted images of the massive clouds of birds filling the air or sitting on the lake.
Speaking of sights and sounds, another March event that makes for great pictures is the annual Blair Fine Arts Pops concert. I always enjoy the jazz band and show choirs, but the highlight for me is the diversity of solo and small group performances. I like the sincerity, energy and style of the selections that range from contemporary and country to doo-wop.
Another fun event indirectly affected by the weather was the Harry Potter themed March Madness at the Blair Library and Technology Center. Unlike past lock-ins at the old library, the March Madness with Harry Potter was open to all, and adults dressed up and had as much fun as the kids. While guests probably could not have guessed, the library staff and party planners had scramble on Saturday morning to buy supplies and find creative ways to improvise decorations because the shipments on order from suppliers were delayed due to bad weather on the east coast.
In mid-March I attended the Special Olympics Aquatics competition at the Blair YMCA. Around 27 participants from ages 8 to 77 were entered in seven events. Five Blair competitors took part in the competition and eight other Blair Special Olympics athletes will compete in the a regional swimming competition at UNO next Saturday. I was impressed with the motto on the back of the Special Olympics tee shirts: “ Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
That expression of courage reminds me of a comment I read in an obituary for Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking who died earlier this month. After a flight in a specially equipped padded aircraft to experience the effects of weightlessness he was asked why he took such risks. His answer was, “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”
Hawking is most notable for writing “A Brief History of Time,” and for his cameo roles on Star Trek:The Next Generation, Big Bang Theory and as Lisa’s wheel chair buddy on The Simpson’s. His accomplishments as an author, theoretical physicist and pop icon were achieved while suffering from the degenerative effects of the neurological disorder amyotrophic literal sclerosis -ALS.
On his fame as a celebrity he said, “I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognized. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.”
Another timely comment that made me laugh was his answer when asked if he thought he was the smartest person in the world. “People who boast about their IQ’s are losers,” Hawking reportedly said.
As a journalist, teacher and parent, the Hawking comment that most caught my attention is about communication. “Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and it’s greatest failures by not talking…All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
To this admonition to keep talking I would add that we need to keep listening too.