humor, Outdoors

Anita’s, and Earth’s Autumn To Do Lists

“The hose is put away.” 

I crossed off the task on my Autumn To Do list. One done and a bazillion to go. Luckily the Midwest “second summer” temperatures coaxed the hose stretched across the lawn from rigid to pliable. I wound it into a storable coil and heaved it into the sidelined wheelbarrow parked in the back shed. Relieved that it wouldn’t remain a wintry neon exclamation point chastising my procrastination.

First task on my To Do list: Store the hose
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

While my To Do list tilted toward the “Unrealistic Number of Tasks One Can Complete In A Season” category, Mike’s remained a steadfast three.

Early on he explained that HIS To Do list maxed out at three. I could add more once he completed the trio, but not before.

“That’s how many slots there are,” he said as he tapped his temple. 

This challenged me to evaluate, prioritize, and broaden. I could easily store the hose and not waste one of Mike’s slots. Although it would be proactive to relocate the snow shovels by the front and back doors, it wasn’t urgent – another slot saved. 

On the other hand, winterizing the pond needed Mike’s expertise and needed it soon. On MY list I’d break “Winterize the pond” into “Pull out, Dismantle, and Drain pump.” If I wrote that on MIKE’s list, he might count it as three. So, I wrote, “Winterize the pond.” This “broadening” strategy was not without risk. Mike might pull out the pump and leave it on the porch instead of dismantling and draining it to be stored. Then when I’d subtly question why the pump wasn’t put away, he could counter “It wasn’t on the list.”

Currently “Fix the fireplace” topped his list. Since it involved fireproof caulk, spatula look alike tools, and a Home Depot visit, I concentrated on MY list. (It would’ve taken hours to locate a clerk to direct me to the correct aisle with a confusing array of caulk choices.)

Clear Leaves From Deck/Release Leaves From All Deciduous Trees

My “Clear leaves from deck” job was at odds with Earth’s “Release leaves from trees” task.
Photo by Tomas Anunziata on

Mike had mowed the lawn leaves into submission, but the maples swirled litter onto the back deck. Here’s where I should have broadened Mike’s “Mow the leaves” entry into “Take care of all the leaves.” I thought of “all the leaves” as I swept and bagged them.

It occurred to me that my Autumn To Do List paled at the Earth’s Autumn To Do List. Twenty mindless minutes of sweeping and bagging resulted in a clean deck and a half dozen bags lining the curb. I crossed off “Clear leaves from deck.”

Earth and the maples don’t get off that easy. For Earth to complete “Release leaves from all deciduous trees” was quite a process. First, Earth needed to turn down the temp and lower the lights. Then the maple slowed its auxin (a plant hormone) to the leaves and pumped up the ethene (another plant hormone). The maple wasn’t done until the cells at the base of the leaf wall weaken and the other cells expanded. When the wind whooshed, it deposited leaves on my deck.

If I hadn’t swept the deck leaf free, I’d have a mess come spring. If Earth hadn’t release the maples leaves, the tree would die. Losing leaves was the maple’s way of conserving resources and staying upright during the windy winter months.

Winterize The Car/Winterize The Wildlife

Using the 20% off coupon, helped me tackle the next autumn job, “Winterize the car.” My part in accomplishing the task involved phoning for an appointment, driving to Castle Auto in Woodstock, and solving the day’s Wordle in the waiting room while the mechanic did whatever he did to winter ready Pearl, my Forester.

Squirrels stashed black walnuts for the winter.

Earth’s “Winterize the wildlife” responsibility encompassed gray squirrels, cross orb spiders, and red headed woodpeckers in my backyard alone. Luckily Earth’s timing was superb! My black walnut bounced bocce ball sized nuts off my roof. While I dodged them, the squirrels raced to hide them. Earth urged the cross-orb spider to bundle her eggs in a tough spun casing to protect against the cold. The red headed woodpeckers snacked from the elderberry shrub that Earth had planted. They also hunted ants, beetles, and spiders (sorry cross-orb spiderlings) under tree bark.

I took care of Pearl and Earth took care of everything else.

Hang Christmas Lights/Shoot Off Comet

Photo by Dick Hoskins on

Although “Hang Christmas Lights” seemed like one of the more festive Autumn To Do chores, getting the lights actually lit dampened the joy. The scenario unfolded as follows. First, I suggested that Mike hang the lights the weekend after Thanksgiving Day. Then Mike suggested that we wait until he felt like doing it. Then we “suggested” back and forth until it’s too late to do it that day. Eventually Mike came around to my way of thinking. That’s the preliminaries. The next stage was locating the Christmas decoration storage bin, unearthing the box within the bin that held the lights, and untangling them. Then there’s checking the lights, replacing the spent bulbs, and not all of them working anyway. At this point Mike threw them in the trash. I took them out of the trash and put them in the car so that I could recycle them later. Then while I bought new lights at Ace Hardware, Mike poured himself a Scotch and found the extension cords. Eventually, the lights cheerily shined throughout the Christmas season (and most of January) because it’s REALLY cold in January. Then Mike and I “suggested” back and forth about taking them down. In time he took them down. (This involved another Scotch.)

Earth’s “Shoot off comet” task took decades to complete. The scenario unfolded as follows. First the Tempel-Tuttle comet orbited the sun, a thirty-three-year lap. Then the comet left a debris trail. Finally in November Earth passed through the debris resulting in the Leonid meteor shower.

A thirty-three-year orbit and debris trail made a trip to Ace Hardware seem like a cinch.

Sometimes I felt like my life tilted out of control and I didn’t get things done.

Alternately, Earth tilted in control (23.5 degrees away from the sun to be exact) and naturally completed her tasks. 

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