About a week ago, the skies finally opened up to deliver a few inches of much needed rain. For most of October and November we had barely three quarters of an inch of the wet stuff over the past two months reminding me of a similar drought in the Spring of 2012. Mother Nature continues to dish out a capricious hand with hot and cold, wet and dry weather mixing in ways that only a Steven King novel could do justice to. But unlike in the heat of the summer, there is little to show for this fribrillation as most everything save a few greens in my cold frame have settled down for the season.
The fall chores quickly came to an end last week with a final cleaning up of leaves and other lawn detritus. There is little left to do in the garden and with a late Thanksgiving relative to Christmas, we are now in the heart of the holidays with the feeling of immediacy at hand. It is now time to split wood and build up the pile for the winter. I’m starting at this chore slowly having thrown out my back, wrecked the muscles in my arms and twisted my ankle on different occasions in prior years. As I pass my mid 50s I have finally learned the signs of my body of when to stop and go inside.
So I try to get out every other day for 30 to 45 minutes of maul swinging to build my pile. I have about a half a cord already split and another cord to go. I have been building fires every other day and soon it will be a daily activity once the temperature is consistently below freezing, which should be in the next week or two. While my activity is slowing that of the local birds seems to be increasing. They are hitting our feeders on a regular basis and eating seeds and berries off the trees. Last weekend a flock of robin made a migratory pit stop at our house eating all the berries off the winterberry and beautyberry bushes. They left a few crabapples for others.
There are a few signs left of the season past: old sunflower stalks holding up half-eaten seed heads, seed heads of irises and Echinacea that I have left in the yard as well as the outlines of old hosta leaves. It’s time for torpor.