The Many Chores of Fall


Vicki Doudera here, thinking that every time autumn rolls around, I’m convinced it is the busiest season of all.

Summer can be a bit of a blur what with the lobster bakes, bike rides, book events and tourists, but oddly enough, I don’t consider it an unduly busy season. There are too many gorgeous starry nights, early morning walks to the harbor, and swims in the lake, and these activities provide a calming undertone.  The kids are out of school, and being off that grinding schedule is relaxing even if the pace of summer days can feel like a 100 meter sprint.

Winters in Maine are laid back.  There’s the flurry of activity around the holidays, but that’s about  it. Basketball and hockey games, skiing, snowshoeing and skating (when one can) are staples of my winters, but those are fun pastimes. Other than putting up the Christmas tree and then taking it down, there is not much to worry about in the winter – making soup, knitting hats, and keeping the fires stoked and the house reasonably free of dog hair and wood ashes are pretty much it.

If you are a writer with a March first deadline, like me, there is also the little detail of finishing  your mystery, but even with that deadline, I find winters to be calm.

Spring is certainly busy.  There are seeds to start, windows to clean, gardens to compost, and graduations, weddings and — if your book launch date is early April, like mine —  parties to plan and throw.  Yup, spring is busy, but I still don’t think it is as filled-to-the-gills as fall.

For one thing, the chores of this season simply must be done before winter, whereas many of the chores of spring can be delayed.  Sure, it would be nice to do that annual spring cleaning, but if it doesn’t get done until July, who’s really going to know?  Mulching flower beds in May is a noble goal, but if the pile of mulch remains untouched until November, nothing of major consequence will occur.

Unlike frozen pipes at the camp if the system isn’t drained. Or higher energy bills if the wood isn’t stacked or the storm windows aren’t down.  Or a dead lawn if the leaves aren’t raked. Autumn’s “to do” list items have serious consequences for getting through the winter, and most of them cannot be ignored.

Such as getting the sailboat out of the water.  The photo above was taken earlier in the week, when my husband Ed (in the blue vest) motored from Camden to Rockport harbor, meeting Alan Drinkwater and his big rig to haul out our boat.  It’s now sitting in a woodsy lot we own near Lake Megunticook under a few blue tarps. As anyone who owns a boat knows, it’s a relief to have that task crossed off the list.

And these chores must be accomplished at a time that is already busy.  School is back in session, so supplies for the scholar need to be purchased, along with new clothes, shoes, and athletic equipment. Fall is harvest time, and something productive must be done with all of the garden’s bounty.  I wish I had time to make jams and dilly beans like many of my friends, but at least I did make and freeze some pesto.

And then there are the soccer games. On Tuesday, we drove to see the Camden Hills Girl’s Varsity Soccer play Nokomis High School, located in Newport, and talk about a beautiful ride!  We took Route 7, nicknamed “The Moosehead Trail,” and if you’ve never driven this lovely ribbon of a highway up and down the rolling hills, I strongly recommend it.  (BTW, Camden Hills won in overtime, 2-1, with our daughter Lexi scoring the first goal.)

Sandwiched between all of these chores and activities, I need to get some writing done for that March first deadline. Thank goodness today is a rainy day!  Now if I can just keep myself away from the Camden International Film Festival

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2 Responses to The Many Chores of Fall

  1. Rusty Fairbanks says:

    With 11 gardens to ready for winter, I am thankful for this weekend’s rain. At least I have an excuse for doing nothing but reading a good book, drinking hot tea, and getting ready for tonight’s season premier on Showtime of “Homeland.”

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