Sarah and I have both been busy the last week as we transition from winter to spring.

The curling season officially ended for both of us this week. My men’s league team made the playoffs this year and that meant we played a game every night this week until we lost. Monday night we played a game that started around 21:20 and lasted until nearly midnight. The game was tight, but we won to move into the second round of playoffs on Tuesday. The Tuesday game was even tighter. The two teams blanked the first two ends before our opponents scored one in the third. In the fourth end we scored one to tie the score. The teams again blanked the fifth end before our opponents scored one in the sixth to pull ahead. In the seventh, we scored two when the opposing skip missed his final shot badly and instead of scoring two himself, he pushed one of our stones into the previously empty house. Our skip then drew the house to take a one point lead going in to the eigth end. In the eigth, and final, end we were sitting very pretty playing to steal, even though we didn’t need the point to win. However, I failed to throw a guard with my second shot and put the stone through the house. Our third then failed to throw a guard with both of his shots and suddenly we were in a very tough spot as the opposing team made a couple of nice shots to crowd around the button behind a series of guards. The game ended when our skip’s last stone rubbed a guard in front of the house on its way in and the opposing skip scored two to win the game. It was a tough way to lose a game that we was ours to win. After the game, we went out to the Great Dane Pub in Fitchburg where we had beer, appetizers, and old fashioneds. It will be very difficult for our team to stay together next year (because of team point limits), but we all had fun on our team this year. I don’t think anyone was happy to lose in the second round and end the season.

Sarah’s season ended yesterday when she played in the playoff game for her first-half league. She played well, but her team lost to her opponents.

Our final curling event with the Madison Curling Club for the 2005-2006 season will be this Thursday when I help to run a two-night mini-league for people who got interested in the sport through this year’s Olympic games. The club will break the ice this Friday, 31 Mar 06, and that will officially end curling for this season.

The temperatures here in Madison pushed up in to the fifties and, inspired by the good weather, I took the grill out of winter storage and grilled with a vengeance. I made some really tasty grilled, bone-in chicken parts and some excellent garlic and oil potatoes on the grill. The chicken and potatoes smelled and tasted so much better than they do when they’re prepared in the oven. The forecast for tomorrow calls for snow (no accumulation) and rain but I’m not putting the grill away. It’s out for the season and is a clear sign to winter that we are ready to move on.

This afternoon, Sarah and I went hiking over part of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail with Dalla. The portion of the trail we hiked today is roughly 1/2 hour from our house but we seem to hike it once or twice a month nearly every month. When you hike a trail that often, you can really see the progression of the seasons. Today, we saw, and heard, an Eastern Meadowlark which has returned from its winter vacation. The red-winged blackbirds are also back and busy reclaiming their space in the swamps. Dalla doesn’t find much to interest her in songbirds. She’s far more interested in the critters that scamper on the ground and several of those were out and about today, as well.

The birds tha are busy building a next in the bird house near our back door have obviously been busy. The house is nearly full of nesting materials and they crammed more in there today while I was outside grilling.

Sarah put her spring/summer/fall tires on her commuter bike this weekend. She went out to ride the bike on Friday and discovered that the rear tire was flat. When she got it up on the stand, she discovered that a nail had helpfully embedded itself in the tire. In addition, it had poked no less than ten holes in the tube. Since she had it up on the stand anyway, she took off the winter tires and put on a set of spring/summer/fall tires. I retired my winter commuter this weekend and got out my favorite bike, a single-speed Schwinn that has to be twenty years old if it’s a day.