Settling in for Fall

Fall has been here for a while now, and the weather is giving every indication that winter’s none too far down the road. Yesterday, in the middle of some drizzly rain, snow flakes could be seen. So, it’s time to get ready for colder temperatures.

If, like me, you live in an older house, you know that windows are a major problem…at least if you’re like me and not rich enough to replace to old windows that old houses come with. So today was the day I set aside to deal, with the really serious offenders. That’s four windows, all of which have a tendency to be cold spots any time the temps drop close to freezing. Time has taught me that the best way to deal with them is to cover them on the inside. Experience has taught me that getting the cover in place means I’ll be using my extensive stock of ‘colorful’ language. Experience was right, I cussed a lot more than would be considered ‘proper’, but the job is done and the house is already feeling warmer.

The other big chore was doing some leaf raking. People who live in Florida think Fall leaves are nothing more than a spectacular show. They are nice to look at, but they can also be hell to clean up. If you’ve got a yard like mine that makes it almost impossible to rake leaves from Point A to Point B, cleaning them up can get ‘interesting’. In years past, I would take a tarp, lay it out, then rake it full of leaves before using the tarp as an improvised travois. Using this, it would take two to three trips to haul the average year’s leaf fall. This year, with the leaves still clinging to the biggest tree in the back yard, I knew I’d be making several trips over the course of multiple weeks. So I indulged myself in an old tradition: a leaf burn.

It had been a very long time since I’d done one, but I found it to be a cheering experience. Getting a decent-sized pile wasn’t all that hard, and there were several dead-falls that had come down in the past week’s storms/high winds. They went on top of the pile, and a sheet of newspaper served to light the entire pile. People think leaves smoke terribly when you burn them, but that’s only true if you’re trying to burn wet leaves. In this case, it had been long enough since the last rain for what was on the ground to be dry. Once things started burning, the only time there was any smoke was when I would rake more leaves into the burn area, temporarily ‘choking’ the fire. Burning clean, it was a surprisingly hot fire, and the leaves were soon consumed. In the end, I was left with a small heap of branches and twigs that burned cheerfully down to a heap of ashes

There will be more fires, and I hope I get days equally ideal for having them: calm to light winds, sunny skies and just enough chill in the air to make being next to a fire feel good. I’ll find out, but for a first time in a long time, it was fun. Who knows, maybe next time I’ll start just before lunch and grill myself a hotdog?

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