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We’ve entered the time of year I like to call “Sprinter.”

That’s part spring, part winter.


It usually arrives in Northeast Pennsylvania around the same time as the Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade, and this year is no exception. I spent my Saturday morning and early afternoon riding (and for a short time walking) in the parade with Times-Shamrock Communications, and was happy to find early-on that there was no need for the winter jacket I brought with me.

Despite the small piles of snow still adorning many of the sidewalks, the sun added just enough warmth to the Sprinter air to be comfortable in a sweatshirt. Some people in the crowd even appeared content in their green T-shirts.

After the parade, I parted ways with the downtown city crowds and retreated back to the Abingtons for a brisk Sprinter walk at South Abington Park. Seeking some peace and quiet, I crossed the first bridge and took the dirt path that veers off to the left, away from the more populated paved trail.

The ground was the epitome of Sprinter: a mix of mud and slush.

But it wasn’t the ground I was interested in; it was the tree branches and, more importantly, what might be in them.

You see, my favorite Sprinter activity is birdwatching. Actually, that’s one of my favorite year-round activities. But in the Sprintertime, it’s different. In Sprinter, it’s about looking for a sign of hope, a sign of spring.

I’m referring, of course, to robins.

In the words of songwriter Harry Woods:

Rain may glisten but still I listen for hours and hours

I’m just a kid again, doing what I did again, singing a song

When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along

Unlike the false hope perpetuated by that liar and trickster, the groundhog, the hope presented by the “red, red robin” hasn’t failed me yet. And so, every Sprinter, I fervently watch and wait for its first appearance.

I’m sad to report I did not see any robins on my Saturday afternoon walk at South Abington Park. The only bird I spotted was a dark-eyed junco, a common winter bird to this area.

Did you experience your first robin sighting of the season yet? If so, I’d love to hear about it and perhaps share the details with other readers in a future column. Send me an email at with your name, town, the date and location of your spring sighting and any other details you’d like to add.

As of press time, I still haven’t seen any robins myself. I maintain, however, that it won’t be long before they “come bob, bob, bobbin’ along,” and we can say goodbye to Sprinter and hello to spring. After all, the first official day of the season is only six days away.

And that’s worth singing about.