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Locals fall into winter preparation ritual

Every year there are certain things that householders do as fall develops.

Given the tendency of our climate to do things suddenly, sometimes it is hard to see a seasonal change appear.

You hear the sound of a lawnmower, either next door or down the block, and think, “Probably the last cutting of the year.”

Those who listen for the cries of migrating birds, particularly honkers and sandhill cranes, report on seeing them go over and consider that since they are early, this may have significance about the coming winter.

Wood is purchased and stockpiled. The car gets a winter tune-up.

The late crops are harvested, including garden fruits which would take damage from early frosts.

People with foresight put out their Christmas lights while they can do so without danger of frostbitten fingers.

Storm windows go up. Windows that have been ajar all summer are closed.

Everyone has his own routine. And there are those who inspect caterpillars for thickness of coat and other animals for the same reason. Worms and other creepy-crawlies disappear. (Where do they go?)

And birds other than the huge ones also leave for warmer climes. (Come spring, there will raise the joyous shout “I saw a robin today!”)

Quietly this litany goes on as people snug down for the winter season they know is coming.

And the stories begin: How many times do you hear the “I remember when . . .” or “Do you remember the year . . .”

And last-minute gardeners will be setting out tulips and other bulbs, which will gladden their hearts come spring.

Some people give the windows a last washing so that melting snow and dust don’t make a nice mud on the glass.

Each has his or her own way of preparing for the season and pontificating about what the coming season will be like. The only way to find out is to experience it.

I am sure I have not included all the parts of the ritual. I hope I did not miss your part of it.

But I hear people saying, as they go through the various parts of their fall ritual, that in spite of the inconvenience, they would not want to live where all the seasons were just alike.

Elizabeth Widel is a columnist for

The Chronicle. This is the 2,856th column in a series. She may be reached at 509-826-1110.

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