Column: Wacky weather conjures up a yellow, January surprise

SUBURBAN FUNK — You know how hard it is to suffer the winter, wishing all the time that the short days, no sun, will be over.

There are things about this winter that have really annoyed me.

I live in a big old farmhouse, and it has a way about it.

Because it is large, with giant boulders as the foundation, it can leak into the basement when it rains.

This winter, we’ve had more rain than snow.

Now, I am not saying I don’t like the basement.

Unlike modern homes, this farmhouse basement is not finished. It doesn’t have a special set up for chairs and a wide screen TV. I don’t even have a wide screen TV.

It does have a cement floor, and a built-up area where people used to store their jarred goods. We also used to have the washer and dryer down there.

In the old days, mom had a giant Maytag ringer washer. Luckily, modern times surfaced. (The washer and dryer now are in a special first floor room. Ah, modern times).

Here’s a little indication of how off this winter is.

I’ve had to decide daily, what kinds of clothes to wear.

Should it be jeans and t-shirts, or how about the coat with a down layer?

I could use the REI supplied down vest, or the L.L. Bean designed jacket.

No matter what I decide, I am burdened with another thing. I am still swatting mosquitoes.

I recently did a job in Zimbabwe. I do work for CNFA, a non-governmental organization (NGO). This is an organization that asks you to volunteer your time – and expertise if you have any – and go work with farmers.

When you do that job, you are told to prepare yourself for mosquitoes. I did that, and took my own spray and special medications. (You never know what can hit you in beautiful Zimbabwe).

The place I was staying, in slightly remote Gwanda, had lodges. But they didn’t have mosquito nets.

One lodge had this odd little device which burped out some sort of spray periodically. The other had real spray.

So, here I am in January in Ohio – so advanced and so sophisticated – swatting mosquitoes.

When this sort of thing gets me down, I often look for something cheering.

One day recently, I was outside.

You can actually do easy outside work now, sans coats.

I was pulling away fallen limbs, discarding them. I had bushes trimmed earlier, but winds did their part in bringing down big tree limbs.

Toiling away, I decided it would be nice to see real flowers.

I looked and saw something yellow. It was bright, beckoning.

I brightened. The old hope springs eternal thing. Alas.

It was an audacious dandelion.

Saturday, Jan. 18

Early up. Ice storm. Got out the winter clothes.

Then by 9:42 a.m., the ice was already melting.

Go figure.

Email Louse Swartzwalder at

Email Louse Swartzwalder at