Around here, in the northeast, you have to plan for the cold. We always say “Need to get that done before the snow flies.” Given the erraticness of the weather, the snow could fly any time. It’s cold at night and it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve gotten snow before Halloween. We frequently get snow by Thanksgiving. Actually, if memory serves, we are more likely to have a white Thanksgiving than a white Christmas. I’m not sure why, but we often get an “early snow” anytime from late October until very early December. Then, generally, the weather calms down and we don’t get heavy snow until January or February. In recent years, our heaviest snow months have been February and March.
I was born right after a blizzard. It wasn’t a huge blizzard, not like the one that took place on my birthday in 1888 which was not inches, but between four and eight FEET deep. It paralyzed the east coast from New York to Maine and as far west as Ohio and Michigan. It was a huge storm, probably one of the largest in weather history.
There were a lot of things we needed to get done before the snow flies this year. Some of the really big ones were done including replacement windows through most of the house and a new boiler during the lockdown. These were our two most critical issues.
We also needed a new front gate. The old one was broken and rotting. And, the gutters needed cleaning. The dead tree right behind the deck looked likely to keep dropping limbs and could, in really bad weather, come down completely. It had been crumbling for a while. Every time the weather got a bit windy, a limb would fall including a couple of big ones. The last one that fell, I saw it break. It only took out a bird feeder. We were lucky. It could have been much worse. It seemed most unwise to let that tree stand through the winter. Maybe we’ll have a mild winter. Maybe not.
New Englanders don’t bet on the weather.
It’s a bad bet.
The trees in the backyard are red, yellow, bronze, and gold. It’s cold and likely to rain the rest of the week. It is raining now. I think it’s the end of autumn.
So on Wednesday, we had three trees taken down — the two directly behind the house and one more that was dead and in the way of the fall of the bigger ones. The main tree was an ash and it was, the tree guy assured us, at the end of its normal life. They only live 20ish years. The birds are unhappy because without their tree, they have to fly further. But in this the birds don’t have a say.
When the tree guy left, Owen built a new gate. He should have built it crooked. He built it straight, so it hangs crooked. The 22 year old fence lost it’s straight shape a long time ago. On the “up” side, we can safely open and close the gate, even if we have to do a bit of shoving to get it to line up.
Today the guy came to clean the gutters. Now that we have functioning gutters, it’s a lot easier to clean them. It’s just a matter of clearing the debris off the top of the grill. The same guy installed a lightning rod. We’ve been hit by lightning three times in the past 10 years, so getting a lightning rod was important. Getting hit by lightning will still blow out the televisions and computers, but at least it won’t burn down the house.
What warms me on a cold day? A boiler that works and uses as little oil as possible. A good heating pad. A down comforter. A warm furry dog. The memory of spring and summer in the future. And Emu boots! They are waterproof (or is that resistant?) and worn barefoot, they are as the only thing I’ve ever owned that actually keeps my feet warm and dry. They are expensive, but I’m easy on my boots, so they usually last for a decade or more.
NOW we are ready for winter or as ready for winter as we ever are.