April 3, 2014

In and Out of the Quad-Cities: QCA Spring Rites of Passage

Contributed by Gail McPike and Toni Hall

This year, Spring didn’t exactly spring into action. The month of March teased and tortured us with weather hinting of lovely things to come followed by a cold slap to our snow-crusted cheeks. If we said none of this bothered us, we’d be telling you the biggest whopper since Punxsutawney Phil said Spring was right around the corner. Quite frankly, we have just about given up on the weather forecasting sensibilities of our furry friends and put our faith on more scientific meteorological methods.

Here’s a bit of weather predicting you can hang your hat on. It seems the buzzards have returned to Hinckley Township Ohio on March 15th for the past half century. This year they, like the Quad-City Spring, were a little late. According to Current Trophy Husband Frank (who witnessed the great bird migration in 1978), the all-knowing internet reports in 2014 say the buzzards didn’t arrive until 7:47 a.m. on March 16th. Late…. just like the QCA Spring.

But we do know Spring is just around the corner, because some of the annual rites of the season are counting down before our very eyes. Let us give you the checklist of Spring Rites of Passage.

First Rite of Spring – Trees, shrubs and plants arrive at the Big Box Stores

Yes, we mark the beginning of the season with the arrival of the first load of plants to our local stores. One can never start the landscaping season off without the first plants arriving. This year, deep snow was still piled in the parking lot, but the plants have arrived.

Second Rite of Spring – The Annual QCA St. Patrick’s Day Parade

This parade is a milestone event for the QCA. As far as we can tell, our QCA home is the only place in the whole world where the St. Patrick’s Day parade is a two state event. Winding through the streets of Rock Island, crossing the Centennial Bridge and ending with throngs of people in Downtown Davenport, this is one of the biggest celebrations in our town. We try to attend every year; sometimes it’s freezing cold, other times it warm and sunny. Either way, it’s a Rite of Spring.

While we are talking about the St. Paddy’s parade, we need to note a couple of cool details. First, this year’s Grand Marshal was our old friend Dennis Flaherty. For those of you who have never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Flaherty, here’s a short bio. He’s an ex-Marine, a stalwart family man, a pillar of St. Anthony’s Church, the longtime Merchandise Manager of the Bix 7 road race and an all-around great guy. He also happens to be Irish. And, to top off the parade thing for 2014, our friends the Duax Family won the “big shillelagh” for the best Irish Float. A tip of our green “Spring” hat to both of these families.

Finally, no St. Patrick’s parade is complete without Santa. Yeah, for those of you who have witnessed the event, Santa has an Irish connection. Apparently, he and St. Paddy go way back. Since we are big time local celebs, the Jolly Red One always gives us a knowing wink as he rides by draped in his green cape. We can’t help but wonder if we’d get more under the tree if Santa didn’t spot our annual shot of Irish “coffee.” Someday we’ve got to ask Santa’s right-hand man in the Quad-Cities, Mike “Sargent” Pepper, if Santa holds a grudge.

Third Rite of Spring – The Annual Fish Fry Season

If you happen to be someone who is allergic to sea food, jump to the next paragraph. For all of us foodies, the Quad-City Spring offers up a culinary moment of mouthwatering majesty. Nearly every Catholic Parish sponsors weekly fish fries during the Lenten Season. These people have developed their own top secret recipes; many were decades in the creation. We do our best to maximize our exposure by hitting a new parish each week. Here’s what to expect.

The serving style is old fashioned “school house” buffet. The décor is typically “rec room chic.” It’s a family friendly event; we see families with three and sometimes four generations seated around long cafeteria style tables. The prices are way reasonable. But the fish (broiled, fried and/or grilled) will send your taste buds into the next season… Spring.

Fourth Rite of Spring – Easter Celebrations

This year Easter falls on April 20th. In the general scheme of things, this is kind of late. Over the past few decades our Q-C Easters have ranged from warm and balmy to blistery cold. But nothing says Spring like seeing little ones scramble for eggs out on the lawn. We have a dear friend who owns an Easter Bunny Suit. A few years ago, we got a shock when EB showed up on our porch. We’ll save that for some future story.

Well, we’d give you a few more Rites but the editor of 50+ Lifestyles may read us our last rites for going on and on. Before we go, let us wish you and yours a great Spring. We’ll see you for the May Flowers.

Filed Under: Community, Humor