For those of you who don’t live where the seasons change, indulge me a bit while I give you an opportunity to exercise your imagination. For those of you who get to enjoy the seasons you may not realize that those who count Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter are missing one or two other seasons.

Between Fall and Winter is a short season called “PutAway” (which I suppose has as its counterpart the period between Winter and Spring called “TakeOut”).

A successful PutAway is heavily dependent on how restless Fall is to give way to Winter. This year, PutAway came on suddenly. A sudden drop in temperatures and the fleeing of the sun behind a thick layer of clouds caused many of the trees to suddenly drop their greenness and many of the garden plants to recoil as their planning how to survive the winter took an an urgency that wasn’t there a week before.

Us urban dwellers, who are a bit more flexible than the garden dwellers who put down roots, react a bit differently. Our panic at the sudden change in seasons is driven not by temperature but by time. In one short weekend, we typically have to move to protect our possessions and change our spaces.

At my house, (and most likely yours too) we have this unwritten list about how we need to spend PutAway. For us, PuAway centers around a shift in space where the patio table comes into the garage to take over the space that the snow blower was temporally occupying over the warm summer months. Snow shovels are prepared for readiness as they evict the bikes from their choice place next to the garage door. I scramble to find space for my winter sweaters and long underwear that have either fled from the warm summer weather in fear or, like the nuts the squirrels hide, were put away last year and forgotten.

One can not forget the more outside focused items that also call for attention. Gutters that are full of leaves have to be cleaned before they freeze (I was a bit late on that deadline this year), leaves have to be raked, frozen tomatoes and flowers have to be moved from the garden to the mulch pile and the and the hoses have to be rescued before they turn into unmanageable frozen coils.

Winter Lights

Winter Lights

If time permits and the weather cooperates as it did this year, we’ll also attempt to put up “the lights”. Some might be tempted to refer to these as Christmas lights but in reality, they stay up and on until it gets warm because only the very brave attempt a ladder in January or February. Our preference is “Winter Lights” which gives us license to leave them up a bit longer.

When we finally finish PutAway, there is a quiet peace that settles in. The bare garden waits patiently until the first snow arrives to cover it over, the trees, without their leaves show their branches against the stark sky and the front porch is lit by the soft glow of the lights which strike a nightly truce with the winter darkness and cold. Quiet seems to rule the days between PutAway and TakeOut.

I’ve learned over the years to enjoy this brief period of unplanned panic as we transition from one season to another. It part of a cycle that brings order and forces me to slow down. Winter, after all, is right around the corner.

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