Despite the warm weather winter is near. If it cannot be felt in temperature, there is certainly visual evidence in the autumn palette that once graced the trees and now litters the streets. Familiar sounds echo through the crisp, clear air; the rattle of dried leaves as the wind chases them along their way blend with the song of geese overhead in a bright blue sky.
It’s time to put the patio furniture in storage and empty those pots of summer color. Get the pruner out and give the garden a dramatic haircut. Wrap those bushes in wire to safe guard them from the unsupervised pruning that is sure to occur at some point during the snow and insulate the tender, not intended for this climate, plants. Get the ladders dusted off and grope around in the leaf choked gutters. Dig out the extra birdfeeders and keep them filled with good, high energy seed. Pull out the warm weather gear and slip the shorts, sandals and tank tops back into their winter lair. Get the cozies out for our short coated friends and all those silly doggie sweaters can come out of the closet
It’s time to get all those chores checked off the to-do list before the next season starts in earnest. Unlike the slow and gentle melt into spring, winter comes in a hurry and stays for the duration. It can be both beautiful and brutal, as can every season.
But we prepare for winter in much the same way as our other animal friends. Many of us inexplicably add a few pounds during the coming season, blaming it on a down spiral of activity but maybe it is a process left from long ago when individuals needed an extra reserve to get through the time of snow. When food stores meant the difference between living and dying a slow death. Like the other animals, our life then was dependent on how well we prepared and how lucky we were. Food had to be found and harvested which usually entailed going out in weather dressed in a few layers of thin inadequate clothing and hoping something was around to harvest. Fuel for cooking and lights were carefully monitored because when it ran out, it was gone. There was no reserve. Homes were not set at a comfortable temperature; it required manual labor to keep the fire going, which made it a 24 hour a day job. Snow piled up in drifts and there it stayed until spring. Winters were long, dark and cold…they were met with the same trepidation many of us feel in modern times.
Now we only have to go to the freezer to get our food and if that runs dry for some unexpected reason, we drive to the stores a couple of blocks from our very warm home, complete with climate control and lights that turn on with a switch. But we still have to brave the weather- with our Eddie Bauer down filled-coat and thinsulate water-proof boots that we put on before getting into our vehicle.
Considering what winter used to mean doesn’t it seem silly to get so concerned about a season we now can get through with little personal harm? With virtually no risk to us or the ones we love? Is it really a reason to mope about and sing the blues? Shall we make ourselves miserable for months because we have chosen to live in a climate where winter arrives to refresh the earth? Do we have that kind of time to waste?
Buck up my dear friends. It’s not the apocalypse – it just winter.