Oliver: Autumn, please come back for a curtain call

Joan Oliver
Joan Oliver

The calendar says we’re still in autumn, but the weather doesn’t seem to be paying any attention.

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a glimpse of what life could be like in mid-January, when the “real-feel” temperatures dip below zero. Then there was the snow, and not just a gentle dusting that might make some people do a happy dance and head for the hot cocoa.

No, this was a shoveling event. At least it was for the Olivers. I just couldn’t bear the thought of firing up the snowthrower. Mostly because I’m the one these days that has to deal with the gasoline smell and the whirling blades that I have to admit scare me a little.

Truth is, I’m just not ready. Not. Ready. At. All.

Why, I was just trying to get my head around the idea that we were going to have to be raking leaves for weeks. Somehow I managed to get at least a little ahead of the curve in bringing in all the assorted garden decorations and ceramic pots before the snow hit.

At least some of my flowers, the dianthus and snapdragons, made a valiant effort to keep on blooming even after the first couple of frost advisories. Of course, they were no match for all that snow and cold.

Autumn tends to bum me out all by itself. It’s not that I crave the hot weather or spend all summer in a pursuit of recreation and good times. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I love the light dappling through the trees. The flowers and all the lush greenery that spring and summer bring. The gentle breezes that make you take a deep breath and sigh with happiness. The sound of crickets and bullfrogs and cicadas that fill the evening air and the lightning bugs that illuminate the backyard.

Don’t get me wrong. Autumn is beautiful, too. Each fall I find myself searching the changing trees for the perfect burgundy pink hue in the hope that I can capture the color and use it somewhere, whether in an article of clothing or in my home’s décor.

Maybe that’s why I feel so cheated at the moment. I lost most of the summer to cancer surgery and radiation treatments. And then our autumn lasted all of about a week or two.

Now here we are in the middle of November, and the weather is acting like it’s winter already. The time change isn’t helping, making it dark by about 4 p.m.

And it’s only going to get worse. The shortest day is still about a month away. You know, when winter actually starts.

If winter could just mind its manners and show up when it’s supposed to and then graciously leave when it’s supposed to and not hang on until almost May, I’d be a lot happier.

I like changing seasons, which is why I’ll stick around and not move to, say, San Diego, where it’s sunny and warm all the time.

Still, winter ends up being a mental challenge for me each and every year. That means equal parts denial, resignation and fierce determination to power through. Call it my own winter stages of grief.

So forgive me if I currently find myself in the deep denial phase.

We’ve already had one crisis of lost gloves and an emergency trip for long underwear. I’m not sure I can handle months more of this.

Sadly, it’s only November. Here’s hoping we have an early spring.

• Joan Oliver is a former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

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