The Rockwood Files: A Spring Thing

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

For the past month or so, I’ve been waiting for Mother Nature’s punch line. Because the unusually mild winter and the spring-like temperatures in February and March felt like a practical joke. I resisted the urge to pull out my sandals, and I’ve kept my winter coat hanging right by the door.

I didn’t want to warm up to the idea of an early spring only to have the green, grassy rug pulled out from beneath me. I knew if I got excited about 70-degree days, I’d surely wake up one morning to a foot of snow and a week full of school snow days.

But today’s cloudless sky and 80-degree temperature has made me a believer. Spring has come and winter really is over, even though it feels like it never came.

And I know why it never came. It’s because I bought snow boots. I was caught unprepared during the previous winter’s record-breaking snowfall, so I learned my lesson and bought snow boots for the whole family in early November. As far as footwear goes, we were ready for a blizzard. And that’s precisely why we never got anything other than a few flakes that looked more like a dusting of powdered sugar on the lawn.

If you enjoyed the mild temperatures last winter, you can thank me and the five pairs of new, untouched snow boots lined up by our back door.

By next winter, the kids will have outgrown the new snow boots which means we’ll probably get a snowy smack down in November, so mark your calendars. Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor.

Even though I’m thrilled about spring’s early arrival, I’m not so happy about what came with it. A painter who was working on our back deck last week told me he saw a black snake slither out from under it. He said it was a really big snake, spreading his arms out wide to show me the length. I’m guessing snakes woke up and crept out early this year to sun themselves in the warm weather.

Just knowing the big snake is out there somewhere is making me nuts. I’m still trying to house-train our new beagle puppy, Charlie, so I have to accompany him outside and praise him profusely anytime he manages to do his business on the grass instead of my carpet. But it’s tough to go into the yard and watch Charlie when I’m constantly scanning for the snake.

Every time I step onto the deck, I imagine a huge black snake lounging there in one of my deck chairs, wearing sunglasses and sipping on a mojito. Then once I’ve cleared the deck and have confirmed he’s not underfoot, I start imagining he has slithered up a tree and is waiting to fall from a low branch onto my head. So I stay busy searching for the snake, looking down and then up and then down again. Meanwhile, poor Charlie has already peed and waits not-so-patiently for his praise and treat.

Don’t bother saying that black snakes only eat mice and aren’t the least bit dangerous. My head may realize it’s true, but my gut instinct isn’t buying it. In my book, there are no “good snakes”. Poisonous or not, any snake sighting would surely induce a heart attack, and heart attacks fall squarely in the “not good” category.

So hurray for sandals, sunshine and the smell of honeysuckle. But one thing is certain: If I ever do spot that snake, I will most definitely have a big “spring” in my step.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.