Greetings, my fellow port swillers and, although I’m a day or two late about it, Happy Autumn!
As ol’ Robbo has said probably every year since he first started blogging (well, and before that, too), this is truly my very favorite season. (Spring is a close but distinct second. While I like the start of winter, the novelty seems to wear off earlier every year. I have always despised summah, a loathing picked up during my misspent yoot in South Texas.)
Ma Nature, getting into the swing of things, has seen fit to dish up a series of highs in the low 70’s in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor for the next week or so, allowing ol’ Robbo to spend about four hours this morning giving the grounds a good Monty without suffering from heat stroke. (What is a “Monty” you ask? In this context it means mowing and trimming the entire yard, plus the ditch between the sidewalk and street and the little meadow between the back gate and the creek. I also sprayed weeds, watered whiskey barrels, and cleaned the accumulated ashes out of the grill.)
While this is pleasant enough, ol’ Robbo’s ideal fall weather conditions – which won’t arrive for at least another four weeks or so – involve a temperature of about 45 degrees with a steady rain and fog. There’s something about tramping around in it, smelling the mixture of dank, rotting leaves and chimney smoke, hearing the crows cawing off in the distance, that gives ol’ Robbo a delicious feeling of memento mori. I’m not being morbid in this, because it also seems to focus and increase my sense of (or at least desire for) piety. I sometimes wonder if the Church Fathers had this psychological phenomenon in mind when they set the liturgical calendar to restart in late fall. (Of course, there’s also something delicious about coming in out of it, pouring a large glass of Lafroaig, and flopping down in front of the fire which is also highly satisfying, if perhaps for not such high-falootin’ reasons.)
Anyhoo, working around the house today brought two other things to mind. First, this year ol’ Robbo put a couple of large urns on the patio out back, in which he planted dwarf boxwoods and surrounded them with trailing annuals. (They really look quite nice.) I have begun to wonder what I ought to do about them over the winter. Boxwood is really too pricey to be treated as an annual and, for practical purposes, I really can’t move them. It occurs to me that maybe I can somehow insulate them – you know, wrapping some kind of material around them to keep the shrubs’ roots from freezing. Anyone have any ideas or experiences along these lines?
Second, I am resolved this year to finally start using the fire pit that also sits on the patio. I bought it about three years ago, and for some reason have never done much more with it than use it to burn empty charcoal bags. Why this is, I just don’t know.
(Speaking of fall, a colleague of mine at work was telling me all about the trip she and her new fiancee plan to take up to Maine in about three weeks. She’s never been before and one of the things she said she was looking forward to was seeing all the foliage. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the leaves will be more or less down already by the time she gets up there.)