Saturday Single No. 211

If one is to believe the forecasts, there will be, by the end of today, between five to eight inches of snow on the ground here on the East Side.

I have no reason to disbelieve. The weather pundits have been unanimous the past few days in telling us that the first major storm of the cold season was forming and would spend from Friday evening through Sunday rotating over Minnesota, Wisconsin and northern Michigan. Being restless last evening, I stayed up late, puttering with mp3s and reading, and by three a.m., when I finally retired, I heard that the storm was wetting down the Twin Cities metro area, though only as slushy rain. And the streets here were dry.

Now, as mid-morning approaches, we have here slushy rain that looks from my window as if it’s rapidly turning to flakes of snow. And in this first chapter of the cold season’s tale, I see – unfortunately – things undone. What with the Texas Gal’s work and schoolwork and my own chronic physical difficulties, a few autumnal chores that I had wanted to get done before snowfall did not get accomplished.

I had wanted to get the ladder up and spend a few hours one weekend day cleaning leaves from the gutters. That did not get done last year, and there were no resulting problems, but I wanted to check the gutters this fall to make certain we would have no difficulties. Circumstance and lack of time, however, have conspired to leave the ladder in the garage, except for the brief moments required to take off two screen windows and replace them with storms. I could have, I suppose, climbed higher on the ladder after changing the windows, but I am not as nimble as I once was, and the thought of climbing the ladder to rooftop level without someone holding it at the bottom was, frankly, a little scary. So I waited.

And, unless the weather is warm and dry during the week to come, I have likely waited too long.

The same holds true for the leaves on the ground. Our landlord came over a few weeks ago with a lawnsweeper and maneuvered most of the leaves into rough piles. I believe his intent was to return and remove the piles, but the advent of winter weather – five or so weeks ahead of the season itself – will likely mean the leaves will stay until spring. In the case of the flower beds where the perennials sleep, that’s probably fine.

One major chore did get accomplished: About a month ago, I tore down and discarded the small fence around our garden, and pulled up the stakes and tomato cages inside the fence. I’ve been meaning to head to the garden plot in the past few days to see if all our neighbors did the same; I’m wondering especially what happened to the plot laid so precisely down by two young men from the adjacent apartment complex and then left to go entirely to seed when one of the two – or so I’ve heard – moved away unexpectedly. I will likely have to make my way to the garden in boots on Monday.

Ah, well. None of the tasks left undone seem essential. It would have been better were they done, but – as I said above – time and physical circumstance played their cards this autumn and had better hands than the Texas Gal or I held.

As I’ve been writing, I’ve been watching through the study window as a woodpecker has been making his way around the nearest oak tree. I cannot tell through the mist what type of woodpecker it is. It could be a red-headed or a downy – more likely the latter, I think – but his insistence on finding his meal before the heavy snow sets in impresses me. And as I watch, I also see several of the squirrels who live in our trees as they forage for food this damp morning. And today is only prelude: The wet and snowy weather settling in for the weekend is only the first of numerous storms we can expect this cold season. At least, that’s what the folks at public radio have been saying, basing their own comments on a wide range of sources that include both science and cold and old wives’ tale.

I wrote six weeks ago that autumn “will end this year almost certainly as it has other years, in a four-week slice of rain and gloom and bitter wind.” Those four weeks are upon us, and no matter how light or heavy the snowfall from this weekend’s storm may be, we are experiencing what Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith sang about on their Evidence album in 1989. I know I’ve posted the song before, but I believe it’s been some time. Even if it hasn’t, there’s no song in my library more appropriate today than that duo’s lovely “The First Chill of Winter,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

“The First Chill of Winter” by Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith [1989]


2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 211”

  1. Paco Malo says:

    Great first storm of winter essay. I especial like that diligent woodpecker.

    It’s a little after 1pm this Saturday afternoon in Tampa and the temperature is a very comfortable 75. But as I read your post, I’m getting nostalgic — not for the slush mind you — for the first flakes of snow.

    You guys do your best to enjoy the storm — think of those piles of leaves as compost for next years garden.

  2. Yah Shure says:

    Here in the Twin Cities, we went from a record high of 68 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday to up to a foot of wet and heavy snow today. Ah, winter.

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