Saint John — Cordell McMaster says that Thursday was the first official day of spring.
McMaster, 65, said he knew it was spring Wednesday night, when he heard the familiar sound of spring echo throughout the floor of a sports bar in Saint John.
“It was quiet, real quiet, save for some weeping, and then I heard it. Guy in a Tie Domi shirt pipes up, clear as day, ‘Next year.’”
Like the robins and thrushes, whose dulcet tones filter through the forests to herald spring, the call of “next year” raised throughout the sports bars of Eastern Canada likewise mark the end of the grim, unabating, soul-sucking experience of winter — and the similarly grim, unabating, soul-sucking experience of watching the Toronto Maple Leafs tank spectacularly, albeit predictably, once more.
“Every year it’s the same. Autumn starts with the chants of ‘this is the year,’ and spring starts with ‘next year,’” said McMaster. “It’s one of the great cycles of life, predicable, unending, mystical. Kinda like the arrival of pothole season in Saint John. Once I saw a that feller say it, then a whole bunch of his buddies began to repeat it, and soon, it was … like a religious chant, like, ‘next year… next yeaaaaar,’ resonating through the bar like some kind of modern-day Gregorian chant, except with more Moosehead involved.”
McMaster, who was just 16 when the Leafs last won the Cup, said he doesn’t watch the NHL except to follow the Leafs so he knows when to start preparing to plant his garden.
Now, people in our region can clear out the garage and think about green lawns, while Maple Leaf players clear out the locker room, and think about green fees.
“Hey, man,” said McMaster, enthusiastically, “break out the sandals and shorts…It’s almost summer. Though, I guess, if we wanted to, we could all watch that first-year expansion team play in the second round, eh?”