This week I had a meeting downtown, which meant I had to dress up for a change. As I peered into the closet, I spied two nearly identical dark-blue slacks—one size 34 and the other size 36. I’m an optimist, so I stepped into the 34, confident that I could zip it up. But, alas, it was too tight. Well, I’ll just have to super-size it, I thought.
You may think I had to switch pants because I haven’t exercised or because I cannot help myself when it comes to chocolate-chip cookies, brownies and cake. No, it’s not that at all. It’s that we’re going to have a very severe winter this year, and my body is getting ready for it.
My body knows it’s going to be brutally cold and that it needs an extra layer of insulation. So I’m really being proactive by gaining weight.
A month or so ago, news stories began appearing about predictions of a harsh winter. Both the Farmer’s Almanac and the Old Farmer’s Almanac are predicting colder-than-average temperatures and greater snowfall. The Farmer’s Almanac says there will be a huge storm just in time for the Super Bowl in February.
Usually, it’s still pretty nice around here at Thanksgiving, but the Farmer’s Almanac says we’re due for a wintry mix of snow, rain and sleet. Wonderful.
One often-noted sign of a hard winter is an abundance of acorns and squirrels gathering them early. Debbie has a huge oak tree in her backyard, and it has been raining down acorns for weeks now. Some days it seems like we’re under attack as these little bombs zip past our ears.
We’ve also had some strange disturbances in the yard. In the mornings, we’ve noticed that critters have been whooping it up at night, literally tearing up the rug. Dozens of divot-size chunks of turf have been uprooted. Neighbors have said they’ve seen raccoons and foxes in their yards. Could it be one of these animals on a nocturnal binge?
No, said the lawn-service man who was called in for consultation—it’s just squirrels burying acorns. I remain dubious. I’ve never known squirrels to tear up soil quite that badly. We must be in for one heck of a winter!
The Almanac people also say that fat and fuzzy caterpillars are a sign of bitter, cold weather; and a narrow orange band in the middle of the woolly bear caterpillar means there will be heavy snow. Okay, I’ll be sure to look for those.
After our last divot disaster, I went out and bought some mothballs. We read that they are good at warding off critters because the smell is so bad. You sprinkle them in your garden or yard, and pests will supposedly flee to an odor-free environment.
So the other night, after getting home late, I went out in the backyard with a flashlight and sprinkled mothballs in the places where we’ve had the most divot activity.
The beam of light would occasionally reflect the white of the mothballs like the first flakes of snow landing on grass. A little chill came over me. I’m not ready for snow just yet, I thought, as I walked across the yard in my shorts and sandals. After all, it’s been in the 80s this week!
P.S. So far, the mothballs have worked. Knock on oak.