Spring is in the air. The signs are everywhere. Lake Cadillac is open. The sidewalks are snow free. The kids walking past my house on their way to school are wearing the traditional Northern Michigan spring ensemble: flip-flops, shorts, ski jacket.


For me personally, a couple definite harbingers of spring have occurred. The sidewalks are clear and dry, so I am now taking my daily walks outdoors. I have already heard the first joke of the season about my ski walking poles: “Hey, you forgot your skis.” 

Then, on my first spring crossing of Mitchell Street (corner of Harris) in downtown Cadillac at 8:30 A.M. last Monday morning, I saw the initial red light runner of the season. It wasn't a cheapie either. It was a full-fledged, plenty-of-time-tostop, fifty feet of lead time, flaunting of the law. Ah, I love the smell of pedestrian fear in the morning. 


So, we are officially into spring. Another sure sign is the influx of people walking their dogs. Keeping our pets healthy is always a concern, but the expense of a pet is not something to be taken lightly. According to PetEducation.com, owning a dog can cost anywhere from $4,200 to almost $39,000 (over a typical 14-year life span). Small things you spend every year can add up, like treats ($75) and stain remover ($50). A complete cost analysis is at: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2106&aid=1543


While you're out walking, safety is always a key. Walkers tend to be environmentally conscientious, so it's not uncommon to see someone picking up trash during their walk. This might not be a good idea. “Those who make meth often use the one-pot method, which can require a two-liter pop bottle. Under the right conditions, the bottle could explode in your hands," says Trooper Amy Bellanger, of the Michigan State Police. “This is the time of year when people tend to clean up debris that collected in lawns and ditches over the winter. Police are asking people to be careful when outside this spring. If you run across trash and there's a two-liter pop bottle there, it could be the leftovers from a mobile meth lab. If you find what could be the trash from a mobile meth lab, you should call 911 right away.”



Of course, at this time of year there is one thing that might prevent people from venturing outside. This weekend is the Final Four in the college basketball tournament. Most businesses are probably thankful that the finals occur on a weekend. So-called March Madness costs businesses some serious cash. “Businesses will lose $1.6 billion during the course of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament due to lost productivity from employees watching the tournament and participating in office pools. Fifty-three percent of business professionals said they plan to watch the NCAA Tournament this year, of which sixty-one percent will be watching during the workday.”  (http://officepulse.captivate.com/march-madness-mania-grows-among-business-professionals)


While the colleges are wrapping up their basketball season, Michigan high schools concluded their championships last week. If you are a high school sports fan, you might be interested in the classifications for high schools in 2017-2018. The Michigan High School Athletic Association has just announced these. The 750 high schools in the state range in size from 3016 students at Macomb Dakota to 9 students at Whitefish Township Community School. Cadillac is 199th in size at 853 students – Class B. You can see the whole list at: https://www.mhsaa.com/portals/0/documents/AD%20Forms/1718enroll.pdf


In terms of high schools, another sure sign of spring is the scheduling of high school graduations. Many of this year's seniors will be heading off to college in the fall, so they might be interested in what are considered the best jobs in Michigan for college graduates. They are: Industrial Engineers, Credit Counselors, Commercial and Industrial Designers, Computer Systems Analysts, Management Analysts, Database Administrators, Environmental Science and Protection, Technicians, Including Health, Computer Network Support Specialists, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists, and Sales Engineers. And the least desirable job score for college graduates? Kindergarten teacher. (https://www.zippia.com/advice/best-job-in-michigan-for-recent-college-grads)


Spring is supposed to be a season of new beginnings. For one British group beginning anew will certainly hold a special meaning. It marks the end of an ordeal that they did not have to endure, except they were unaware of that fact. “The contestants of a British reality show that marooned them in the wilderness for a year as a social experiment have returned to civilization – only to discover the series was canceled several months ago and no one bothered to tell them. The Channel 4 program, 'Eden,' assembled 23 men and women and dispatched them to a remote corner of the Scottish Highlands, where they were told to set up a self-sufficient community. The group was cut off from any contact with the outside world...contestants reportedly endured boredom and infighting and were reduced at one point to eating chicken feed.” That first grilled hot dog of the spring is going to taste mighty good to these folks. (http://variety.com/2017/tv/global/reality-show-wilderness-canceled-contestants-1202016947/)


Finally, for sports fans there is no greater herald of spring than the start of the Major League Baseball season. In the words of the late, great Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell: “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the Earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.