My mom used to say that spring and fall in northwest Tennessee were those seasons when the weather slammed back and forth between winter-summer-winter-summer-winter...until it finally decided to stay just one of them - either winter OR summer - for a few months. Yep, that's how our weather has been here lately. One week, 65 degrees and sunshine. The next week, lows in the 20's and freezing drizzle. Oops, no, not winter yet: back to the balmy temps and blue skies. Whoops, slipped back into the deep freeze - let's build a fire!
But winter really is almost here. Soon, the mild weather will be behind us for good, and we'll begin counting down the cold, soggy months until spring, when the winter-summer-winter-summer game will return to escort in a new summer.
Other signs that it's winter in the Boondocks:
1. Deer. Deer in the ditches on the side of the road. Deer on the hood of your car. Deer hanging from trees in the backyard. They're everywhere, lurking in the grayness of twilight, so keep your eyes open and drive carefully.
2. Silage trucks, and tractors hauling round bales of hay. The pastures are beginning to die off, and the colder weather has all the bovines feeling extra hungry. Time to start feeding the cows. Be prepared for a slow drive into town if you head out early in the morning!
3. Mud. It's hasn't gotten cold enough long enough for a hard freeze here, the kind of freeze that turns the topsoil into concrete. Nope, underneath that crunchy chocolate crust lies a quagmire of mud soup. So there's mud on all the trucks, mud on the tractors, mud on the boots, mud on the insulated bib overalls, mud on the laundry room floor, mud on the cows, mud on the horses, mud everywhere.
4. Smoke in the valleys. People are cranking up their fireplaces and wood stoves. I love how in the evening or early morning, you come over a hill to find a valley where the smoke has settled snugly around the houses, like a great down blanket. Something wholesome about the smell of wood smoke, too...a sense of home, hearth, warmth, comfort.
5. Furs in the freezer. While the boys are busy packing the deep freeze with deer meat for the year ahead, they are also busy running trap lines. So I have to remember - People food on the left; shrink-wrapped fur coats on the right. Blech!
6. Seasonal foods. Oranges, grapefruits, pomegranates - yum! Turnip greens from the garden patch out back. Chex mix and hot chocolate for an afternoon snack. Baked sweet potatoes. Lots of soups and stews and chilis on the menu, and lots of venison. Fudge - my mom's recipe, because it really is the best. Grammy's divinity - divine!
7. Secrets! Lots of whispering and sneaking going on at my house. Last night, Tom was confined to the work room with me while the girls bustled about, working on some top-secret project. Secrets, and giggling, and anticipation. Less than three weeks until Christmas!
8. Carols and greenery and twinkling lights. The ladies at Grace decorated the church building for the holidays last week. The green garlands and bright red holly berries definitely add a festive air to the 100-year-old structure. Martha and Helen have been practicing "Coventry Carol" the past several days, to sing at a Woodmen dinner Steve is hosting later this week - such pretty voices and sweet harmony from my two young ladies.
9. Final exams - yes, we have those even way out here in the boondocks! The college men are chugging through finals even as I type, and are both looking forward to a much-needed break from their studies as fall semester draws to a close. Tom has his final art review on Thursday. Here at home, the twins are counting down math lessons - two more lessons and a final exam and the green book goes back into the closet to stay. WooHoo! In Helen's history, we just talked about Julius Caesar...can you guess who's on the lesson schedule for next week? :)
10. Gunfire. We can hear duck hunters, miles away on Reelfoot Lake. The Pop!Pop!Pop! of their shotguns. And the occasional rifle crack of a deer hunter on a neighboring farm.
11. Whiskers. Lots of the men around here grow their beards out in winter, to protect their faces. Folks are looking wild and woolly in these parts! We won't see their clean-shaven faces until the spring thaw.
12. Cold, clear nights when it hurts to breathe, but you walk to the house slowly because the stars are so bright against the ink-black sky that they look like they are alive. Dancing. White-hot embers in the frosty air.
What signs of winter have you noticed in your neck of the woods?
3 weeks ago