Not winter's. Mine.
Winter's onslaught always brings with it very mixed feelings. It gets a sort of bitter-sweet welcome in this house.
First, of course, is the loss of the outdoor lifestyle that rules the roost from May to October. Windows and doors are closed, the fans put away, screens replaced by storm windows, and anything that might be damaged by freezing comes out of the shop.
But for all of the negatives, the coming of winter offers some compensations. I have always been something of a book person, and the house if full of them. So many in fact that in a recent clean-up and reorganization boxes and boxes had to be packed up and relegated to storage. Winter gives me some concentrated book-time, and there is always a backlog of reading material of all types from the history of Ireland to the Little Big Horn and from oriental philosophy to the opening of the American frontier.
The "gun room" with facilities for amateur gunsmithing and ammunition reloading gets a touch-up in preparation for extensive use in the dark months of confinement. Notes and reminders scribbled when the weather was too enticing for inside work can now be fulfilled.
As a photographer I will now have time to refine, duplicate, and file what I used to call "negatives" and now must call "files." And in the office/workroom I can catch up on the print-making side-lined over the summer.
The lounging chairs will be removed from the front deck and a supply of fire-wood will replace them, under tarps to keep it free from snow and blowing rain. Kindling is stored in water-tight containers. The fireplace is cleaned, and a fire laid for immediate use when needed— soon no doubt. The propane supply is checked and refills for the thousand-gallon tank ordered up if needed.
Hunting seasons also loom, and though I do not hunt as much as I used to, Jack and Emma will not let me pass them up entirely— nor would it be fair to them to do so. It will also be time to consider topping up the venison supply in the freezers.
And so winter hath its hidden charms. Out here winter used to be the time when people went mad staring at the soddy walls and watching the snow infiltrate around the edges of the makeshift windows. Not a very likely outcome today, even without the glimmering eye of television. There's just too much to do, too broad a reach of activities and projects to have time to experience Prairie Madness.
But the best part of the coming of winter is that it is a punctuation mark in the flux of the seasons. There are four distinct seasons here, although spring and fall may sometimes seem to be demi-seasons rather than the full treatment that summer and winter give us. But there are four and they each have a character all their own. And winter is now on the cusp here on the High Plains, with its peculiar charms and particular dreads. But life is still good, and will spring will come again.