It's cold out. I don't know why that surprises me. It's the first week of November. In the mornings, frost covers the Halloween pumpkins. The last saffron and rust leaves are hanging from the branches of oaks and maples that will soon be winter-bare. Last weekend, we set our clocks back making the most of the decreasing autumn light.
I tucked warm blankets into the children's beds last night. The cold always sneaks up on me. My ankles are chilly for weeks, before I get in the habit of pulling on socks in the mornings. I am not prepared for the end of summer, even though school has been in session for two months.
I dig for the children's coats in plastic storage containers that were packed last spring and come upon my own belongings that I had forgotten -- the slip-on treads that keep me from sliding on the icy bank at the dog park, the favorite gray scarf with the indelible coffee stain, the gloves with the tech-friendly index finger.
This year, the children's winter clothes still fit. I remember when they outgrew everything each season.
I have always bought my daughter black snowboots, so that her younger brother might wear them in the future. Now, I consider buying him a better pair of boots next year as his feet are almost the size of my own. Leaning beside the box of outerwear are the sleds and snow shovels. It seems impossible that these will replace the life vests, bocce balls and squirt guns that I really should put away.
In the oven, I am roasting the acorn squash that were part of our Halloween decorations. I blend them into soup, which, is entirely pleasant now, but would have been unthinkable, a month ago when baskets on the counter were filled with tomatoes from the garden.
In the winter, I tend to take on bigger projects, or dig deeper into work I have begun. The dark days are ideal for creating. I gather energy and ideas in the summer when the pleasant weather draws us out on a whim. And when it is more comfortable to stay inside, I do so. I let myself engage in the work that I had been putting off when the garden needed tending or when the afternoon was too nice to miss.
I am ready to begin the work of winter now, and to make the most of the dark season. The time I have set aside is alluring.
I am sure we will want to play in the snow and go for hikes with snow shoes in the Berkshires. The dog will still need to be walked, and the children will need to be taken to school.
Complete hibernation isn't practical, but I will enjoy the holidays and the traditions of winter, as well as the unexpected snow days and time spent as a family.
Krista Richards Mann is a Westport writer, and her "Well Intended" column appears every other Friday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.