Monday, October 1, 2012

My furnace came on in the middle of the night. It’s that time of year, the advent of colder weather, the slide into increasing darkness, the sun drifting away from us. Every year it happens and every year I greet it with mixed emotions, happiness and regret intertwined, and every year I wonder why that is.

When I was very young it was a simpler thing to understand. On the minus side there was school, which I disliked, and cold, cold weather, which I disliked somewhat less but which, at times, was daunting. I grew up in an old farmhouse with a coal furnace in the cellar. That furnace was banked at night but inevitably its source of heat diminished by morning into a few glowing coals. As the year progressed I could expect my room to be colder and colder when I arose. On mornings with freezing temperatures there would be a skim of ice on the water bucket in the pantry that furnished our drinking water. Staying under the covers on especially cold mornings would insure that the furnace had been stoked, heat had begun seeping back into the house and the kitchen would be warm and fragrant with the odors of breakfast by the time I got downstairs. Having to get up for school ruined that option.

On the plus side of the season were the sparkling days of changing leaves, long walks in the afternoon sun, the smell of wood smoke, and kettles of bubbling apple butter on a crisp morning. Later in the year, snow turned the whole earth into a playground.

I had thought to try to analyze in this little piece my conflicting feelings toward colder weather but I don’t think I’ll continue with that. It’s not that important. Every season contains both pluses and minuses and every one contains memories and emotions of both. But each season is a new one, both in the sense of being a change in the time of year and being new for me to experience—the first time in my life for that current series of days to occur. Who can say what they will bring and what there will be to experience and enjoy? I should not greet them with any particular emotion, either good or bad, but simply experience them for what they are.

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