Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Spring has sprung

Drove to work this a.m. through the usual February backdrop of gray and white, the official colors of officially the most depressing month of the year, a swatch of monochrome blandness whose only redeeming virtue is the first hint, toward mid-month, of a twilight that lingers.

If February had a theme song, it would be a dial tone. Then again, it also has the Daytona 500, so at least there's hope.

The Blob has said many times it considers Daytona Sunday its first sign of spring, and maybe that's because it bursts into your living room in such vivid chunks of color and sound that you are jarred from your long winter's sleep. Look, there's Joey Logano! There's Kyle Busch, the little goober! There's Goober 2.0, Brad Keselowski, and Junior and J.J. and dour Kevin Harvick, and 43 garish, bellowing muscle cars that take you right back to summer sunlight glinting off chrome, and summer wind swirling through cranked-down windows.

One wrist on the wheel, one elbow in the breeze: It's the official driving position of summer, and by God it's almost here.

And so it was with more than some pleasure that I turned on my TV Sunday afternoon, and there was a kid named Chase Elliott wheeling around in the 24 car as if Jeff Gordon had never left. Gordon, of course, has left -- he was up in the booth with D.W. 'n' them -- but there was Elliott, as fresh-faced at 20 as Gordon ever was, resetting everything by sticking the 24 on the pole for Sunday's big race.

The 24 is Napa blue-and-yellow now, but aside from that, nothing's really changed. We're still gonna get gearhead heaven come Sunday, and the colors will come at us in those aforementioned eye-watering chunks, and you'll almost be able to see May and June and July waiting just offstage.

And then we'll all be reading about pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, and, well, that'll seal it. All that gray and white will suddenly look played out and exhausted. February will no longer feel like the life sentence of months. If you close your eyes, you'll almost be able to see it plodding sullenly toward the exit.

See ya. Wouldn't wanna be ya.

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