The winter is our discontent

“Never mind,” I said, shutting the front door as the dog skidded to a stop at my feet.  A plume of arctic air shot across the living room and the wind howled against the door, delivering a clear warning message to anyone foolish enough to consider stepping outdoors.

“Stay in! STAY IIIIIINNNNNNN!” it said, like a reverse poltergeist.

My phone confirmed that it was indeed nineteen degrees out there, heading down to thirteen overnight, well below my twenty-degree, sane-person cutoff for walking the dog.

“Sorry, animal, I’m going to do us both a favor and skip the walk tonight,” I told Memphis, and she headed back to the couch to settle into her Memphis-shaped cushion-crater for the evening.

A friend recently shared an inspirational quote on Facebook that read: “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

This quote is attributed to John Ruskin, a famous art critic who died in the year 1900, after being swept away in a tornado.  Just kidding.  He actually died of non-tornado natural causes at the age of eighty, after losing his mind, which might explain the “no such thing as bad weather” idea.

Living in the northeast and having a sister who lives in San Diego, I would take no small measure of comfort in the thought of “no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather,” a theory that might exclusively apply to San Diego, but doesn’t seem at all to reflect reality around here.  Where I live, for four months of the year, the weather is actively trying to kill us all.

“Sure, it gets chilly out there, but it’s not trying to KILL us,” you might be thinking.

When you’re walking around in thirteen-degree weather, the only reason it doesn’t kill you is because, at some point, you come back inside.  It’s not that the weather isn’t trying to kill you, it’s just that you don’t give it quite enough time to succeed.

“Wait, come back!  Aw, shoot.  The one that got away,” winter mutters as you walk back into your house.

In San Diego, for twelve months out of the year, the weather just pats you on the head and tells you how good-looking you are.  They’re not even having a drought there anymore.  Couldn’t they at least give us that?

That frigid night with the dog happened a few weeks ago, after we’d already had some nice spring weather teasing us.  Winter likes to pretend it’s gone, tricking the daffodils into poking their little heads out of the soil, then WAM!  Winter comes back again like a giant, felt-wrapped hammer, whapping anything green back into submission.  It’s nature’s version of whack-a-mole.

But now, finally, we’re leaving all of that behind.  After several feints, winter has finally faded away, for real this time probably, and we emerge, blinking, from our homes that kept us safe from the air that has been attacking us since November, inhaling air that does not inflict pain on our lungs, as long as you do not count the allergens.

And then we notice that our decks could really use some staining.  And our mailboxes are listing off to the left.  And there’s mud where the grass used to be.  Without winter, we no longer have an excuse to hide indoors, shirking our responsibilities.  For the brief time we have while our weather pats us on the head and tells us how good-looking we are, we have work to do.

It’s almost enough to make you wish for winter again.  When you’re hiding from the murderous weather, at least the yard work can’t find you, either.

You can get some spring in your step with Mike Todd at


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