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Warm winter might mean more skeeters on your maters
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Many years ago, Jim Stafford recorded a song that sums up my thoughts pretty well. "I don't like spiders and snakes, " wrote Stafford and his co-writer, David Bellamy, who later performed with his brother, Howard, as The Bellamy Brothers.

I'm glad there are snakes, because they devour some creatures in need of devouring.

I don't like it when people try to bring snakes like pythons into their homes. In the Florida Everglades, there are folks who will dump pythons on the side of the road. It is causing all sorts of havoc with the eco-system of the Everglades.

Spiders, on the other hand, just creep me out. I have no desire to let a spider crawl on me, but there are some people who do. I hope you enjoy that experience.

There used to be Saturday matinees of scary movies about giant spiders that invade a town and spin a web of trouble. I was not frightened by these movies because I was pretty convinced that you couldn't grow a spider that big.

I was troubled by a Frankenstein movie where they did a head transplant on a guy made in a laboratory.

I digress.

I also do not like mosquitoes. I am not in fear of them, but I don't care for their method of operation.

As we draw within a few days of the start of spring, I am concerned about the recent winter (or lack of one).

Because we didn't have much cold weather, we may have a visit by some rather large mosquitoes. We may have people who are abducted and taken away by some really big mosquitoes.

By the way, for the purposes of this column, I am using the Southern pronunciation of "mus-skeeters." It is on the same page with 'maters, a red fruit grown in many Southern gardens and best enjoyed on fresh bread with mayonnaise.

This is also the season that I fear for my friends who grow things like peaches and grapes. There is usually a cold snap before Easter. It happened a few years ago and wiped out nearly the whole crop of peaches in North Georgia.

Folks always have some great explanation, like one of those disturbances in the tropics. I don't know much about the tropics, except for they usually have a bad mosquito outbreak all year long.

Weather in our area can be quite unpredictable. You can have all the super Doppler, HD, lightning tracking radars in the world and still not get it right.

Many folks may remember that on March 13, 1993, we had a blizzard right here. There was snow as deep as your backside (that is, if you are my height.)

I hope that we might avoid such a mess this year.

The truth is, there is not a lot we can do about it.

I'm not sure we really know what a normal year looks like. Every year, it seems like it is too hot, too wet or too cold, depending on the season.

I'll take it however it comes. I'm just going splash on some of that mosquito spray and make me a 'mater sandwich.

I'm looking forward to it already.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on