Just as the seasons cycle, so do our family’s “to-do” list of outdoor chores.
Although the summer and winter lists are subject to change, depending on the weather, at least several of the chores on our spring and fall lists are the same from year to year. In fact, I’ve been doing a few of the chores for more than 50 years, beginning when my grandparents lived on the farmstead and in the house my family and I now call home.
For example, each fall for as long as I can recall, I have been removing the screened window from one of two inside doors on our enclosed porch and replacing it with the glass version. The enclosed porch is not heated, so the glass window provides another layer of protection from the frigid winter air on the other side of the set of doors.
Another longtime fall chore for me has been cleaning out the gutters on our porch roof. I began helping my grandpa, Jay, with that task when I was old enough to safely climb a ladder. He first coached me how to stand the ladder upright several feet from the porch roof, and then walk it forward by moving my hands up each rung until it leaned against the side of the house
Then, my grandpa held the ladder while I carefully climbed it and stepped onto the roof where I would walk along the edge of the roof that connects to the upper roof, scoop out the leaves, and fling them as far as I could to the ground below. After that part of the cleaning was done, I carefully made my way to the edge of the other side of the roof and knelt down and cleaned those gutters in the same manner. The last part of the fall gutter cleaning chore was to use a large push broom, handed up to by grandpa on the ground below, to sweep off any leaves that remained on the roof between the two sets of gutters. Then, I reached down as far as I could over the edge and dropped the broom into the yard below.
The gutter cleaning routine for the porch roof remains the same to this day.
Besides cleaning gutters, before the snow flies, Brian and I also pick any vegetables remaining in the garden and clean the plants from it, then he works it up with a cultivator while I trim the peony bushes and irises and break the tops off of the gladiolas and carry the bulbs to the basement where they will overwinter.
This year, because we had a bumper crop of Buttercup squash, we also made several trips up and down the basement with them. We will enjoy the squash, potatoes and carrots stored in the basement with our winter meals.
It’s always a good feeling for me when our fall chore list is completed. I can’t say I look forward to the snow and cold that winter often delivers but it’s comforting to know that we’ve done what we could to get ready for it. Meanwhile, I enjoy the slower pace on the farmstead in the winter.
Of course, there is snow to shovel by hand and push with the plow and, sometimes, frozen pipes to deal with, but overall, we have more free time on weekends to relax.
I know, though, that by spring, I’ll be itching to get back outside and mow lawns, hoe in the garden and tend to our flowers and bushes. We also have a couple of landscaping projects on the spring to-do list, but that’s a column for another day.