There is Change in the Air

Today is the first cold day. Sharp winds from the Northwest blow past at fifteen knots plus – fast enough to make whitecaps on open water. The flower and vegetable gardens wilted a week ago in a night frost. Grass has yielded to the cool temperatures. Time to store the lawn mower and bring out the lawn rake to herd fallen, tumbling leaves.

Within the space of a week or two, there is an abundance of outside chores: take cuttings or roots for plants that will not make it until spring; pull summer bulbs for dormancy until spring; plant garlic and some new bulbs for next year; clear the table under the grow lights for winter seedlings and cuttings.

In addition to winterizing outside spaces, the place where the three old trees stood is barren and covered with mounds of plant material waiting for the compost box to be completed. The four leopard frogs in the small makeshift pond will hibernate in the sunken debris, only their noses showing. Rabbits will try to winter in the gardens – a no-no; they will be rousted from their warrens. This year is the year for pruning fruit trees.

There was a time in mariner’s life when he heated with wood; six cords had to be cut to last the winter. Six cords is six stacks of quartered wood stacked four by four by eight feet. It is a time to reminisce about but never to experience again. Each to his own: Dick Proenneke spent winters in the Alaskan wilderness.

Inside, the attic will receive new insulation replacing the original material put there in 1954. The 1954 windows will receive a stuffing of cotton or silicon to eliminate drafts. The furnace will be cleaned. Blankets will appear at the foot of beds.

The clocks will be set back this weekend. It is the official act that says it is wintertime; the daylight will be gone long before supper. Winter is here.

There are many who enjoy the winter with its briskness; many even like the snow; many favor winter sports. But there is no mistaking the grey, sunless skies, the biting wind, the need for an omnipresent sweater and an extra heater here and there.

The mariner will hibernate similarly to the frogs by staying inside until spring with his nose peering out the window. He will venture outside for necessities and to travel to Phoenix when winter is at its worst. If mariner had a coat of arms, it would have a palm tree on it.


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Ancient Mariner

2 thoughts on “There is Change in the Air

  1. Hmm, I thought the Mariner did have a coat of arms … without a palm tree 😉

    We are expecting our first hard frost in the next few days, too. Sunset has been advancing quickly in recent weeks – hard to imagine losing another hour!

  2. Temperatures are still nice in Los Angeles, although it gets chilly fast once the sun goes down — time to stash some extra sweatshirts in the car. When I re-set the clocks this weekend, I lamented about the sun going down too early in the winter. Stuart couldn’t relate – his skin is so sensitive to sunshine that the extra dark hours in winter give him freedom and inspire him to go outside more often. I hope his cheerfulness about it rubs off on me… Looking forward to Phoenix!

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