Balanced Between Summer and Winter

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Summer is hanging on doggedly, not wanting to surrender the stage to the coming frosts and freezes. We were able to enjoy cafe society and eat al fresco on November 5 in South Charleston, WV. Normally the tables and chairs are stacked up awaiting spring by this time at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We even followed our dinner up with a pitcher of frozen drinks in the early evening on our front porch, a bit of our own farewell to our rituals of summer. But each time I say that, along comes yet another warm spell, and we extend our outdoor living room’s life just one more day.


No, it is true, we are sliding inexorably into our cold season. This weekend was the peak for leaf color for us. The picture on the top of this post shows maple trees through our bay window. The plants we had on our front porch have migrated inside, where they will stay cozily on the wood of our bay window. All of the plants had grown significantly during the summer. We barely had enough room to place all of the foliage.


The cats have definitely noticed the change. We didn’t have the heat on until about October 20, but as soon as it came on, our cat Blinky assumed his post in front of the heating vent. It is this time of the year when the cat reminds me of my thermodynamics course describing black body radiation. He absorbs the heat from a warmer temperature, then reradiates the heat back into the room at a lower temperature once the furnace stops.

The cats are definitely slowing down with age. They are both just at 12 years old now, and they sleep much more, and are less eager to head outside, although yesterday they did share the warmth of the evening with us. The cats are about to have their lives upended, because on Thanksgiving week our younger son will be coming to visit, and will be bringing his 8 month old kittens with him. As my wife has said, there will be much weeping and gnashing of kitty teeth during this time. Should be fun.


The leaves are at peak, and since you can’t ever stay balanced on such a peak of color, the rain that we had overnight seemed determined to start stripping the golds and reds off of the branches. This is the time of year when I have to make the decision of whether to rake the same area multiple times, or wait for the large mass of leaves to fall before tackling the removal process. Since I abhor leaf blowers, it is the old fashioned arm power that gathers the leaves and carries them to the compost pile. I keep two piles going back behind the fence. One pile holds last year’s leaves and this year’s weeds, and it has decomposed down to a good powdery dirt. The leaves from this fall will enrich the vegetable gardens in 2019.


I’ll be making an investment in a deeper raised bed in one of our vegetable gardens. When I designed the gardens, I put in three 4’x4’x4″ beds in the space allotted. That did not leave enough space between the beds, and 4″ is not high enough to alleviate knee and back pain. So I will order a 3’x4’x15″ bed for the middle slot. One thing is for sure, you do not plan for a positive dollar return on investment with back yard vegetable gardens. The gardening infrastructure is pretty much just a sunk cost, but the benefits of picking your own produce makes it worthwhile. I figure out that if I get enough produce out to offset the cost of the seeds, it’s a good enough return for me.


I completed my annual task of digging up daffodil bulb clusters that had worked up to ground level. I spent an hour or so dividing them up into plastic bags holding a dozen bulbs each, and offered them to whoever wanted them after church one Sunday in October. I figure that I distributed about 750 daffodil bulbs this year, and hope that they bring smiles all over the valley once they bloom next spring.


In another week or two, the trees will be bare. They will hold no memory of what they looked like with their mantle of greenery. Their bare fingers extend into the air, awaiting the falling snowflakes they know are coming. And the earth will sleep until it awakens again in spring.


Posted originally on my blog at




Morgoth Added Nov 6, 2017 - 4:06pm
It’s freakin’ cold here in Oklahoma.
The good thing is maybe my electric bill will finally go down.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 6, 2017 - 8:18pm
It's been a very cold start to the dry season here at 12° 36' N with night temps in the low 20's C. High winds through the night and half the day exacerbate the discomfort. Its the sweater and jacket time of the year in the tropics. 
Thomas Napers Added Nov 7, 2017 - 3:14am
Very well-written.  Thanks for sharing.  
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 7, 2017 - 10:05am
Jeffry - that reminds me of the time that I was sent to Sao Paulo on business during the winter solstice for the southern hemisphere. It got down to 10 degrees one day, and folks were out with parkas on. Must be rough.
El Salvador?
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 7, 2017 - 10:12am
El Salvador?
Wrong hemisphere. Opposite side of the planet.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 7, 2017 - 10:21am
At the mall today herself bought us both some knitted hats to stay warm and knitted gloves for her. She ordered new sweaters from Europe as I wear a 48 extra long. Be here tomorrow. 
The plus to it is we seldom run the Aircon the other 9 months of the year unless it gets above 38 C and then for only an hour before going to bed. Then just a fan. 
Two tropical summers of discomfort during adaptation was all it took.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 7, 2017 - 12:35pm
Thailand would have been the second guess. Watch out for the tsunamis there.
It is amazing what your body can acclimate to. I used to live in Nebraska where winters can be brutal. I've lived further south since I graduated college, but not extremely south. But when I get back to Nebraska in the winter, I adapt to below zero temperatures extremely quickly. Don't like them, but can adapt.
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added Nov 7, 2017 - 12:52pm
This is a refreshing read.  I do love warm weather but fall has to be the most spectacular season for me.  I’ll reconsider the state of our country tomorrow and savor thoughts of Fall today.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 7, 2017 - 3:25pm
Thanks, Phil. Its good to keep in mind that there's a lot more to life than politics, even though it tends to dominate the conversation on boards like this. I'm also looking at other science-themed posts, but my next post will probably talk about my experience in singing the Verdi Requiem this upcoming weekend.
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added Nov 7, 2017 - 4:39pm
I am a believer in diversity but will pass on Verdi.  Good luck and break a leg as they say
Mark Hunter Added Nov 9, 2017 - 5:26am
I really like early fall. Up here, late fall is just early winter, and that I don't like at all.

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