Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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Winter Is A-Comin' In

December 07, 2009

There's no denying that those balmy 60-degree days were pleasant. I do like going about gloveless, even hatless, and with my wool shirt-jacket hanging open even as the dark closes in from both ends of the day and holiday lights blossom on trees, fences, and buildings all around the island. Still, it was like riding along on a edgy horse that you know has a big spook coming, you just don't know what's going to set her off, so I kept muttering "Ain't natural!" under my breath. Even some hardcore winter-haters seemed a little uneasy. Hating winter doesn't necessarily mean that its non-arrival is cause for celebration. If you live on an island, any hint that global warming is (a), real, and especially (b), accelerating much faster than anticipated, is cause for concern.

Besides, this is New England. Taking unmitigated pleasure in anything wakes the recessive Calvinism in our genes, provoking feelings of impending disaster while the tympani announcing the Dies Irae of the Verdi Requiem pound away in the background.

Saturday morning was grim, Saturday afternoon was rain-and-blustery, and Saturday night was more of the same. Autumn spooked big-time, and by Sunday morning winter was here. The ground was bare, but in some places the fallen leaves off the trail were flecked with bits of frozen slush in which individual snowflakes were clearly visible. The sky was blue, the sun bright all day long, and the temperature still didn't get out of the thirties.

The indoor temp was in the mid-fifties. I set the heater to its cold-weather setting of 60. I wrestled the big cardboard box of winter clothing out of the closet; replaced shorts with longjohns, summerweight pants with sturdier jeans, sleeveless tops and Ts with sweaters; and brought my turtleneck collection up to full strength. In the process I filled a grocery bag of stuff for the thrift shop, made Travvy tug toys out of some threadbare socks that weren't fit to donate to anybody, and tossed the rest into the wastebasket. Travvy assisted by dragging folded stuff out of the big box: Are you sure you don't want to wear these red baggy pants this winter? Yes, Travvy, I'm sure. I think you should think again. Travvy, I've done all the thinking I need to do. Maybe these pants would be a good tug toy. Travvy, leave the pants alone!

Then he pulled a dirty sock out of the laundry hamper and took it to the front door. He does this when he wants me to rethink my agenda, or at least speed up whatever I'm doing. He doesn't actually chew the purloined sock, but he does get the idea across that the laundry is vulnerable. I put him in his crate so I could finish the seasonal clothing switch without laughing out loud and making it too obvious that stealing clothes is a good way to get my attention.

Later Trav and I took our longest bike ride yet, up the bike path to the far end of the field at Misty Meadows, along the grassy edge to the little parking area, and back on Old County Road. It was probably close to three miles.

This morning Travvy's outdoor water dish was frozen solid. The sun was up and it was still 29 degrees F. Winter is knocking on the door. I'm ready.

 

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