Thomas Howard: Spring is in the air, but I can’t smell it


Spring is in the air, or so I’m told. I can’t smell it. I can’t smell anything right now.

It seems every year about this time some magical fairy decides my sinuses are a great place to store a couple tubes of silicone caulking. It’s not allergies. It’s pre-allergies. By the time my car develops a thin yellow sheen in the mornings, I’ll be fine, but each February I seem to incur the wrath of some Phil Swift impersonating Djinn hell-bent on keeping me from breathing through my nose.

I know this is coming each year, so it’s something I’ve learned to deal with. A few Zyrtec here, a cup a warm tea there – Green tea with mint – and I’ll bounce back in a few weeks.

This year, spring is bringing me a very different concern.

Remember Tropical Storm Olga that came through in October? It brought a tree down in my yard, which after a month of pestering the landlord, finally was chopped up and bulldozed into a heap on the side of the property. Yay!

Now, I’m incredibly grateful to my landlord for getting that done.  A 60-foot oak tree in the middle of my yard wasn’t fun, and tree removal certainly isn’t cheap, but I am concerned about what happens when spring arrives.

Growing up in Colorado, I got used to the animals that could kill, maim or otherwise injure me being large, typically fuzzy creatures. Think bears, mountain lions, elk with a sugar rush. Don’t feed elk Twinkies by the way. The game warden gets upset.

Mississippi is much different, with large bugs, snakes and alligators. But, one thing that’s the same in both places is that a large pile of wood looks like a beach front condo to the wildlife.

Did I mention my wood pile is about 20-feet away from a runoff pond built to let my neighbor’s cows get some water?  Water and shelter, and food nearby in the field and woods, both within easy slithering distance of the wood pile.

I’ll just come out and say it. I hate snakes. I live in fear the warmer temperatures will wake up those serpentine nightmares and they’ll move into my wood pile. Will they bite me? Will they bite my dogs? Probably not.

I’ve run past, around and over enough snakes training for races that I know they generally have a live and let live attitude. In fact, seeing one doesn’t really bother me. I just give it space and keep going. I guess the idea of snakes scares me more than the snakes themselves.

Hopefully spring will get here soon, I’ll get a functioning nose back and the snakes will leave me well enough alone. In the meantime, there’s no use in worrying about the future. We have actuaries for that.

Thomas Howard is the managing editor of The Newton County Appeal. He can be reached at


Funeral services for Barbara Collier were held 11 p.m. Friday, March 13, 2020 at Bartholomew M.B.... READ MORE


A crisis grips the globe, the United States, and even Union. Because of the coronavirus pandemic,... READ MORE