Winter is Back

While I was out walking our big dog Rodney last week, one of our neighbors emerged from her house, spread her arms wide, turned a broad smile to the heavens and happily proclaimed, “We’re having a heat wave!”

She was exaggerating, of course. With temperatures in the 40s, it was still fairly cool outside, but I wasn’t going to quibble with her. The East Coast was just coming off a deep freeze that saw iguanas go catatonic in Florida and sent wind chills well below zero in parts of New England. It was so cold where we live in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, taking Rodney for his customary spin around the neighborhood was daunting. My wife bundled up so much, you could only see the whites of her eyes. So yes, it was noticeably warmer – a heat wave, even, by comparison.

By Thursday, it was even more balmy. Highs topped 60 degrees in my neighborhood and rose even higher on Friday – a fact that did not go unremarked upon. While I was taking our daughter to school Friday morning, she said “it feels like springtime in January!” She was not wrong. I half-expected to see confused daffodils begin poking out of the ground.

The oddball weather gave the guys in sturdy leather work boots (the kind I wear for show) renewed vigor. They shut down the road in the lower part of the neighborhood and had the backhoes and shovels out, again – cleaning up from the New Year’s Day water main break and making some upgrades on the water line aimed at keeping another break at bay, or at least making the next one not quite as bad.

The break that left us without water for a while was just one of a slew that kept crews busy from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard. Run a search for “water main break” and dozens of articles turn up – from Chicago to Baltimore to Cape Canaveral and New York City.

For a few days, at least, the fixit crews called upon to deal with all that carnage didn’t have to risk frostbite while they worked outside, but “Springtime in January” didn’t last long. Temperatures plunged back below freezing over the weekend and now a little bit of snow is in the forecast.

Looks like the daffodils are just going to have to wait. Winter has returned to form and there are plenty of water mains to break before it sleeps.

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Daffodils …. in February?

Drive by our house today and you’ll see this guy.

I noticed him blooming in our front yard when I took our big dog Rodney out for a jaunt around the neighborhood.

Thought about trying to talk him into waiting until at least March, but it seems a bit late for that.

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Spring isn’t here yet, so just quit it

Someone in my neighborhood is a little too excited about the arrival of spring.

I’m not sure who it is, but I know this: they must be stopped. Because when one neighbor gets a jump on yard work, the rest of us will have to fall in line or risk being talked about as scofflaws.

Spring doesn’t officially start until next weekend, but already at least one of our neighbors has been landscaping. I emerged from our house the other evening to the woodsy smell of mulch hanging in the air.

I’m not necessarily opposed to mulch. In fact, I welcome its aroma just as much as I delight in the first daffodils that bloomed at our house this week.

The daffodils are adding welcome color following the gray of winter. Our Bradford Pear trees will soon be brilliant as well. And I’m looking forward to saying hello to the tulips my wife planted last fall.

We think they are tulips, anyway. Neither one of us can remember exactly what she planted. We’ll find out when they come up to seek a little sunshine.

That’s the thing about nature. It doesn’t operate on a formal calendar like humans do.

I don’t expect whatever-it-is my wife planted to adhere to specific dates any more than I expect daffodils or Bradford Pear trees to observe the official start of spring.

They operate on their own time and in their own way.

But humans mark the passage of time with calendars for a reason.

I for one find them particularly useful, mostly because they keep me out of trouble. I have an appointment calendar on my smartphone to remind me of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. 

And, not only does it keep track of my schedule, it keeps me straight on wife’s schedule and our kids’ as well.

Without it, I would have misplaced my family a long time ago.

Calendars are important, so why have one if you’re not going to follow it?

The calendar says it is still winter, but the mulch I caught on the breeze this week has me thinking seriously about doing some spring chores around our house more than a week earlier than I think I should.

And that has led me to draw up urgent battle plans for our yard. It would be nice to have some grass growing among the weeds that have overrun it as if they were an invading army.

One day I will succeed in making our yard great again. Unfortunately, my track record is less than stellar.

The mulchy smell in the air around my house isn’t the only thing that has me fretting about spring chores a week early.

Daylight Saving Time is returning this weekend.

Much of the nation is set to lose an hour, but I refuse to lose anymore sleep than I have to over the yard battles that lie ahead.

At least, I won’t until next weekend when my calendar officially tells me spring has sprung.