Inez Castor

O utdoor folks tend to be in touch with the changing seasons. In a world determined to make us march in a timeclock lockstep, we're the first to notice the shortening days.

As we gather flowers and grasses for dried arrangements, there's a poignant sadness just under the surface sun and warmth, a desire to cling to it all as it slips away into the bleak grays and browns of winter.

In order to maintain some sense of perspective, get a grip and take stock of the chores yet to be done before winter settles down on us. Consider what really needs to be done, and what can wait until next spring.

Are you set for winter heat? That might mean getting wood under cover

or cleaning the chimney. If you haven't done it earlier, now is the

time to have heating systems checked out by the experts.

Since the first rain turns months of road grease into a skating rink,

check out all the safety equipment of your vehicles. Make sure you've

an emergency kit with flares and a flashlight, and change your wiper

blades if necessary.

Caulk the windows, and if there are tree limbs that might pose a

danger in a high wind, it's better to remove them than wait for a winter

storm to do the job. Clean and screen the rain barrel; you never know

when you'll need a few buckets of reasonably clean water.

I've decided climbing on the roof is now an unnecessary risk, which

makes it irresponsible. Sometimes, when it's fun, that's alright, but

cleaning gutters is risk without being any fun. So I called Ron, quick

before I could change my mind. After the first storm, when the wind has

moved debris from the trees to the gutters, he'll come and clean the

gutters for me and drain the hot water heater while he's at it.

Don't let all this ant-like business take over your life. Remember to

stop and appreciate the wonders unique to Indian Summer. Use all your

senses to gather memories of warmth and light and hold them close to

your heart. Bury your nose in the last of the evening primroses and run

your hand across the lavender to smell the heady aroma that rises. Watch

dragonflies patrol the yard, nuthatches groom the cottonwood tree and

thistledown float in the breeze.

Spend as much time as you can outdoors to experience those sensory

delights unique to this time of year. Barn owls and crickets are filling

the night air with summer sounds. It's time to start listening for the

haunting call of migrating geese.

The most necessary work will probably get done, but even if it

doesn't, take time to harvest the wonders of the season. Deep in the

soul of all of us is a genetic heritage passed down from ancient and

melancholy philosophers who feared that the coming winter might last


And what if they were right?

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at