The Last of Summer Whine 083111
I woke up last night and looked outside and a trick of the moon made the landscape white like snow and I almost piddled my jammies. The shorter days are still hot but nighttime temperatures sometimes come to within 7 degrees of freezing. Freezing.
I remember last year looking forward to an autumn that never came. We went straight from the worries of late summer wildfires to the first few flakes of what was to be a long, tooth cracking winter.
Last fall we put up a king’s wealth of firewood and snuggled in, confident we’d have plenty, even with our usual habit of keeping the house a tropical 85 degrees. It keeps the snowdrifts from pressing against the windows. But the following May we were digging out mounds of snow to find rounds we hadn’t split. We were starting to eye the furniture, trying to remember what was thrift store bargains and what was family heirlooms. (I argued that the glue in the particle board made a nice hot fire, even though the fumes might kill a few chickens.)
It wasn’t even just snow. It was snow, then ass deep snow, then five inches of rain then two and a half feet of frozen slush. The frozen slush cemented wheels and seized chains. It was so cold Cooter took a tinkle and left a weecicle two feet high. “Move forward a little as you go, Boy, don’t stop.” I threw a moldy apple to the chickens and it froze when it hit the ground and in two seconds there were four hens frozen to the apple; I fired up the torch and considered whether it was easier to have roast chicken than to get them free. When it warmed up enough to snow again, it got too warm and dropped snow up to a horse’s apple hole. It wasn’t even good snowmobiling. There were days last winter when the meadow had areas of five feet of snow and areas of wet grass and stumps; the trick is to keep your speed up so you catch air over the stumps. Stump sailing we call it. It’s really not a sport for a man with a hernia.
I’ve come to the realization that having a dirt road to the highway is like having a raging cocaine habit, but you never get to meet has been movie stars. It costs more to keep up and clear of snow than Charlie Sheen spends to freeze his nose. For awhile I had so much dead equipment along the road it looked like the German retreat at the Western Front. My plan for this year is to have less snow, but we’ll see how that goes.
Old Farts I know are telling me tales of doom: “We’re going to see snow in October” one told me, “It’s going to freeze before the 20th of September, another said, “There ain’t gonna be no meerwana this year” another warned me. I worry they’re right, there have been time honored signs of early winter: sunflowers bloomed at 2 feet tall this year, the goats never shed their winter coats, and a lot of migratory birds moved just far enough north to camp out in the Valley. I still can’t open the freezer without having flashbacks of having everything that runs stuck on the road at the same time and fat flakes drifting down.
It’s too soon to worry about that now, though, we have 23 days of summer left, we won’t have to deal with winter for nearly a month.