... each year we get ready to survive the elements
As a New Englander, I am used to an annual phenomenon. It is darker in the morning. The sun comes through the window at a different angle in the afternoon. Leaves, once green and lively, turn bright and fall to the ground. Glancing at the calendar I notice it is two months until we welcome 2008. Local farmers are gathering in the last of the corn. Local squirrels are busy putting away food. And I feel the need to gather in.
Because of the unusual warmth during October, I seem to be behind other years. But all will be done in a leisurely way. I am inclined to move that way now. I have begun by prepaying my oil bill for another year, delighted to see I have a credit for the first time in recent history. I have searched out the afghans I have knit, placing them strategically so I can grab one when I read or watch one of these entertaining teams on tv. I even have the one my mother made me when I left for college.
My clothes are a project. Tee shirts, shorts and golf shirts are ready to put away – but not too far away since the weather is holding. I check my gloves. The spot where the glove meets the steering wheel is getting a bit thin on a couple of pair. I try on some pants. They will do. I love slipping on a warm jacket and finding a few dollar bills or a ticket stub in the pocket. My friends will be happy to hear that I had the zipper on my everyday jacket repaired after I whined about it for a few months before spring came. I kept pinching my fingers. A few nights I have exchanged my Birkenstocks for fuzzy slippers, but the final switch has not yet been made. I will soon replace my light, flowery bathrobe with my husband's vintage black-watch-plaid Pendelton, slightly itchy but warm as toast sitting at the computer.
The ingathering includes plants that have been out for a summer vacation, kindling for the wood stove and pillows from the porch furniture. We even enjoyed an eight o'clock breakfast meeting outdoors last week, but this week's meeting was held indoors for the first time since April. The menu was the same – mini bagels with a choice of whipped cream cheese, pb and j or Nutella with a box of Joe from our local coffee house. I find my coffee-making cannot compete with those who know what they are doing.
I am checking the newspapers for root vegetable recipes – sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, regular potato, sometimes rutabaga – wonderful to serve with a small roast. Our local real estate brochure had a great one last year. I also have my eye out for cookie recipes for the holidays. I am included in a great cookie swap at the beginning of December. I am inclined to bring meringues wherever I am invited. They are easy and I replace the nuts with rice krispies avoiding the peanut problem and making them quite lo-cal. Another dish I am apt to bring is a cold vegetable like minted peas or carrot pennies, or a salad without lettuce.
And speaking of holidays, I am checking my address book for changes. The day after Thanksgiving when many people shop, I spend on Christmas cards, one of the joys of the season for me. I switch the usual scent of apple candles to fir tree for a few months, and check to see that I have matches or a lighter next to a large candle that I can find in the dark. Batteries are put into a spare alarm clock although, if the electricity is out, I'm probably not going anywhere.
I look forward to my personal ingathering every year. I will greet whatever comes, knowing that I tried my best to be ready.
November 2, 2007