Grateful for fall

Farm Forum

After a long, sultry summer the temperature has fallen and we are grateful for that. Not only will it cost less to keep our cool, but many will also benefit from the memory aerobics that often occurs when switching seasons.

For instance, some mornings are now chilly enough to require a jacket when venturing outside. But when that first nippy morning arrived, could NOT remember where I put my jacket! I last wore it some months ago. I can’t recall what I did yesterday, let alone where I left something way back in May.

So a jacket hunt was initiated. Closets were rifled and a forgotten pair of gloves were found. When did I buy these? Searching for lost items often leads to such serendipitous discoveries. It almost felt like Christmas.

The wayward jacket was finally located. I put it on and stuck my hand into a pocket and discovered a pair of pliers that had long gone AWOL. I should have been angry at the pliers for hiding in that pocket all this time, but was instead grateful that what was lost was found. I tossed the pliers into the junk drawer where it joined several others purchased when I couldn’t find any pliers.

The arrival of autumn means preparing for winter. Back in the day, this involved hauling storm windows up from the basement, washing their glass and swapping the storms for the screens — which then had to be schlepped back down into the basement. Something as simple and natural as the change of seasons used to entail a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

Look how easy we have it these days! Now every window is a “combination”, meaning that someone — probably a guy with dozens of windows on his two-story house and steep basement stairs — invented a window that has a permanent storm and screen.

As nifty as these combination windows might be, they still need cleaning. For me, this means hauling out the squeegee and the ladder and a large jug of Windex. As I peeled off a summer’s worth of grime and bird bombs, I couldn’t help but admire what a good job I was doing. It occurred that if all else fails, I could always launch a new career as a squeegee guy. This reflection made me grateful.

A huge concern this time of the year is those miserable little mice. We have nothing against mice per se, as long as they stay outside where they belong. We take issue, however, when the wily rodents gaze upon our house with a jealous eye and think “Those folks have plenty of space! And I bet there are pounds of food crumbs between the cushions of that couch by the TV!”

So the mice make plans to move into our house and we do everything we can to keep them out. We have employed nearly every anti-mouse strategy known to man, but the mice just laugh their tiny little laughs and say, “Nice try! We’ll see you in the sock drawer!”

Due to our ever-escalating arms race with mice, we recently acquired a new carbon-based rodent control device. This system comes with top-of-the-line night vision capabilities and super-sensitive ultrasonic detectors.

It’s a kitten named Sparkles.

We were concerned that Sandy, our Golden Retriever, would have a problem with having a cat around. It turned out that he was cool with the cat as long as she doesn’t try to steal any of his food. I grew up in a large family and can empathize with that.

I’m pretty sure that Sparkles hasn’t caught any mice yet. She’s still fairly young, plus she has perfected the art of extracting pets and treats from us with her crushing cuteness. Why hunt when you can simply purr against the nearest human leg and look adorable?

Whenever I do something on the yard, the dog always has to hang around and watch. With the advent of the cat I now have two creatures supervising my every move.

The other day I took a break from washing windows and relaxed for a moment on the deck with my wife. My furry four-footed entourage soon joined us.

“I’ve noticed that both the dog and the cat follow you everywhere you go,” said my wife.

“I can’t blame them,” I replied. “After all, I’m sure they think I’m the most interesting man in the world.”

“You’re also the only man they know! And they’re probably just hoping that you’ll give them a treat.”

She had a point there. But I was simply grateful to have followers.

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