By Joe Rector

Here we are stuck in another winter. Punxsutawney Phil lied, although no human ought to put stock in anything a groundhog does or doesn’t do. I don’t understand why anyone would declare that winter is his or her favorite season. What I’ve noticed of late is that this cold weather has a negative effect on most of us.

Dogs seem to know how much we humans hate cold, raw, wet weather. They lie in wait for their humans to fall into the deepest stages of sleep. Then they begin whining and pawing and barking, signals that it’s time to go outside to take care of business. So, humans fall out of bed, put on something warm, and brace themselves for the trek to those favorite spots our pets have. When they finish relieving themselves, those canines decide the time is right to sniff out critters in yards or wooded areas nearby. Owners tighten the leash and drag the animals back toward the house. If the dog is especially in an ornery mood, it will begin the cycle again at least one more time before dawn.

Folks who work don’t have much love for winter weather. Overnight snow or sleet or ice cause havoc. People rise at the usual time and turn on the television to find out if their worksites are closed for the day. Some bosses make decisions early enough so that employees can hit the road or hit the sack again. Parents hold their breaths as they watch the screen for school closings. If weather shuts schools or delays opening, moms and dads scramble to find childcare. If all else fails, a coveted vacation day is burned.

Workers seem to be trapped in perpetually foul moods during the winter. They wear frowns and scowl about everything. The camaraderie that is present during spring and summer hibernates during winter and is replaced with a “Bah, Humbug” attitude. Kindness is in short supply; it’s replaced with stinging retorts that come about inconsequential comments and icy stares that could give winter’s temperatures competition.

People withdraw from the world during the cold season. Instead of participating in activities or visiting with friends, many adults choose to stay home. They wrap up in a warm blanket and stare for hours at the television or computer screen. Others catch up on reading books by their favorite authors. Some who are like me find staying awake almost impossible. My bedtime is embarrassingly early because the bed is one place where I can warm my frozen feet and hands.

The winter also is responsible for poor personal health. People don’t feel like exercising. Instead, they would rather sit at home and eat “comfort food.” We load up on carbs but never take the initiative to burn the stuff up through exercise. If only sleep could serve as a weight control, those of us who shovel in the food during winter could maintain our weight or have it rise just a bit.

Right now, few things bring a little light and warmth to my world. Amy and the kids always spread happiness and fun to the cold weather. Although it takes a toll on my already aching body, work is a good place to be since I can share time and cut up a little with other workers. Coming home, I can look forward to the love and excitement that canine Sadie offers. We play and lie around on the couch like lumps.

In no time, the days will grow longer and temperatures will warm. More outside time is coming, and with it are an endless list of jobs. Still, I’ll take that any time as long as I can wear my shorts and enjoy the sweat that comes working in the yard. I’m just trying to hold on right now. What about you?