by admin | November 1, 2019 8:00 am
Fall waited until the morning of Halloween to make an appearance, but finally it is here behind the Pine Curtain. Temperatures dipped below freezing Friday morning. The leaves on the oak and sweetgum trees visible out my study window are turning brown and raining down, leaving a colorful carpet on the driveway. The yard guy shows up every other week to blow and bag them up, a job I once performed but wisely retired from. The DIY ethic only goes so far with me these days.
There are certain rituals in our household to be followed as actual cold weather arrives. My Beautiful Mystery Companion is the keeper of the plants. I am strictly hands-off when it comes to plant maintenance, which is key to their survival. Before we married, my BMC confiscated a couple plants at my house about to meet their demise under my “care.” However, I am the Designated Plant Mover, which is how I spent Tuesday morning after getting sweaty doing CrossFit. The two-dozen or so plants are scattered throughout our yard and deck — peace lilies, ferns, begonias and those whose names I don’t know. All I know is that some of them, laden with rainwater, weigh up to 50 pounds. I should have skipped the workout and just moved plants.
Most of the plants end up in the shop, where they live under a pair of 4-foot tubular LED bulbs. Being East Texas, this cold snap likely won’t last more than a couple weeks. When there no longer is any danger of frost, I lug the plants back out on the deck just outside the shop. They prefer sunshine to artificial light. I will do the Potted Plant Shuffle probably a half-dozen times before the danger of frost is gone, usually around Valentine’s Day.
The swimming pool is officially closed for the season, a tarp stretched across it and weighted down with water-filled tubes. The old cover was destroyed when a neighbor’s pine tree landed in the pool during the Great Storm of May 2019. I always look forward to closing the pool for the simple reason that nothing else can break until the pool is reopened. Tater, one of our cats, debated trying to cross the tarp over the pool but wisely thought better of it.
Next comes the Closet Clothes Swap, with the long-sleeved shirts switched with their short-sleeved brethren for easier access. The corduroy pants and flannel shirts, the vests, jackets and wool socks all come to the forefront. The straw fedora is replaced by its woolen brethren. My BMC refers to my fashion style, such as it is, as “little old man” attire. No matter. I was wearing these types of clothes when I was in college.
The critters enjoy the break from the heat, though they spend nearly all their time indoors anyway, lounging wherever it pleases them. But there is a bound to Sam the Dog’s step as we head uphill each morning on our walk. He strains at the leash and wags his tail happily. Tater and Tot spend more time outdoors prowling around. Their coats have grown thick as the temperatures drop. Rosie, well, she’s still the queen of the household, not inclined to exercise unless forced to go on a weekend walk.
While the trees in our yard aren’t particularly colorful, many of our neighbors own trees with vibrant colors. A Chinese pistache up the hill has turned a brilliant hue of scarlet. Bradford Pear trees can be relied on for fine color if not longevity.
Here’s a smartphone app that comes in handy to those of us woefully ignorant of tree varieties. It’s called PlantSnap. Take a photo of a leaf with PlantSnap, and the app quickly tells you that shrub with the little blue berries is a Japanese wild cucumber. It also provides the scientific name, kingdom, class, order, family and genus. I use it often in a late-in-life attempt to not be so woefully ignorant of the plants and trees around us. Check it out.
Weather-wise, the coming months are my favorite. I delight in being outside wearing a hoodie, reading on the deck as leaves rain down, or hunched down under the gazebo during a rainstorm. But soon, the limbs will be bare, and winter will arrive. Another season will have passed far too quickly.
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