It's important not to dwell constantly on what's important.

Phillip, the prognosticating varmint of western Pennsylvania, also known as Punxatawney Phil the groundhog, made his annual weather prediction earlier this month, calling for of six more weeks of winter.

It would be hard-pressed for Phil not to see his shadow, considering all the television and film lights surrounding used to record the Feb. 2 event every year. But perhaps the prediction of more winter weather is the groundhog's way of venting his frustration over being so un-gently ripped from his warm den and yanked into the frigid air before he's had his morning coffee.

The event is a harbinger of spring anyway, even if it means nothing more than people are stir crazy from a lack of sunlight and will do almost anything to raise their spirits -- even at the expense of a sleeping groundhog.

There are other harbingers, though. There's the Daytona 500 that gets the motor running for racing fans. Even better is Valentine's Day. It's on that day when a young man's heart -- or the heart of one of greater maturity -- turns to thoughts of love. The love of baseball, that is.

Valentine's Day means Major League Baseball spring training is about to begin. Pitchers and catchers report to camp this week and the rest of the squad shows up next week.

Myriad questions arise. No, not whether Toll Bros. will keep construction vehicles off Summit Drive. No, not whether the "nothing but water in the Turner's Mill meeting room" rule will stand.

No, the questions concern the Philadelphia Phillies. Will they break our hearts again this year? Will the young players Ryan Howard and Chase Utley match their performances of last season? Will new center fielder Aaron Rowand solidify up-the-middle defense? Will the team ever get a solid, reliable and consistently good starting pitcher? Will Harry Kalas ever come up with a better nickname for Jimmy Rollins than "J Roll?" (Please, Harry, please.)

Yes, there are more serious things in life than fretting over a bunch of grown men playing a boy's game. But there is also a need for people to get away from those serious matters, to spend some time with the light-hearted, even the trivial and the silly. It's called having some fun.

The blast of winter this past weekend was a good example of the flow of this yin and yang. Plows were out clearing the roads for safety and people were shoveling sidewalks and digging out their cars, but a few people -- adults included -- took the time for childlike fun of sledding, tobogganing and tubing down hills.

There is the need to refresh the mind, a need that can best be satisfied by the simple enjoyment of play. Fans of Star Trek might recall an episode from the original series that had the line, "The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play."

Find some time to enjoy life. And "Go Phillies."

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