Autumn arrived in the northwoods two weeks ago. One day it was 85, humid and muggy; the next day it was 65 and dry. The air cleared, the wind direction changed, and the weather was best described as "crisp". I love autumn.
More than any other season, autumn has a rhythm of activities that repeat each year. It's the season of preparation, the other three are seasons of waiting. Spring is waiting for warmth and greening; summer is waiting for heat and thunderstorms, and winter is waiting for snow and darkness.
The Autumn rhythm is ticking along here at the cabin. It's a syncopated rhythm sometimes, and irregular at other times. Either way, things we have done every Autumn are being done again.
A winter's supply of propane has been purchased, the price is locked in no matter what the market does. Price risk has been passed off onto others. Five cords of firewood are due to be delivered this weekend, enough to keep the fireplace warm all winter. New service doors were installed in both the car garage and the boat garage. Old siding and trim was replaced and repainted. Gutters damaged by last winter's snow and ice are being replaced. Old Fiberglas insulation in the crawl space is being replaced by high-tech sprayed-in foam insulation that will tighten up the cabin a bit. The furnace is getting a check-up, the septic tank will be pumped, and the well will be chlorinated, pumped and checked.
Interestingly, autumn is the season when Mrs. Haz and I have our annual medical checkups. That's part of the rhythm, too, I suppose.
We cleared out a lot of old crap from the cabin and garages. It filled a dumpster. It had been accumulating for years, and most of it was of no use to us.
A nice but unused canoe was given to the 16 year old daughter of a friend. She loves paddling and will make far better use of the canoe then we will. A paddle boat will be picked up Sunday morning by another friend who will give it to his wife. We didn't need it any longer, and giving it to a friend is a far better thing than putting an ad in the local paper and dealing with what ever doofuses call and then don't show up when they said they will. Besides, it feels good to do things for friends.
A few other things will be taken to the local parish's thrift store for re-use by whoever is in need. It's the seasonal clearing out of things we no longer need, but that may help someone else with their preparations for the coming winter.
None of this happens during other seasons. It's autumnal, rhythmic work that prepares for winter, the most difficult season here.
I think about that sometimes when I'm in the woods. The French Jesuit missionaries who explored this part of North America in the 16th and 17th centuries made their way on foot and horseback through thousands of miles of dense woods, mapping and surveying as they went. They ate what they caught, killed, or harvested. No electronics, no polartec fleece. Indians, wolves, and bears were a constant threat to their existence. How on earth did they do it? Marquette, Joliet and others survived in uncharted wilds in horrible conditions; I whine when I can't get enough bandwidth to watch a movie in the comfort of a heated cabin.
Tomorrow we are driving a couple of hours to visit the monks of the Society of Saint John up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in the Keweenaw Peninsula. We travel there every autumn (and sometimes in summer) to visit the monks' wonderful store The Jampot where they sell the wonderful jams, jellies, cakes, cookies and confections they make. That and donations are their sources of income.
We'll spend too much money, but it will be worth it to stock up on small gifts to give family and friends at Thanksgiving, the celebration at the end of the Autumn season. You can order the monks' goodies online, and you should. It's worth it. Their retail store closes part way through Autumn, and they spend winter praying, studying, worshipping, and preparing for the next year's tourist season.
We do the same here, in our own way, I think. During autumn we prepare for winter, then spend winter quietly, waiting for the next tourist season to begin.
Time to leave the keyboard for a while. The sun is out, and I need to sweep pine needles off of the roofs of the buildings. That, too, is part of the autumn rhythm.