Autumn: the season of change

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Sep. 19, 2013
- Contributed Photo

Though there are four distinct seasons in our part of the world, autumn alone is that time of year which really proclaims itself as the season of change. Those of us who cannot seem to move away often cite the “changing seasons” as the irresistible magnetic force that keeps us here.

Month after month I write about do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions or tips in this space, but this is the one time of the year I really hate to do it myself. I am overcome by the force of the autumnal equinox on my psyche. Here are my DIY solutions in this season of change.

To those who might ask, "Should I seal my driveway before the cold weather sets in?" I answer, "No." Take just enough time to clean out the really visible cracks, and fill them with a good asphalt caulk. That should prevent ice from forming under the paved surface and keep it from breaking up in the winter-spring transition. Then take the rest of the weekend to go apple-picking, and put up at least one jar of applesauce for each of the next 12 months.

Is there enough good warm weather to get some much-needed painting done on the outside of my house? Sure. There will probably be enough sunny weekend days and moderate nights to spruce up the shutters and maybe even most of the trim. And the current paint technology allows for painting in even cooler weather. But I would suggest that you leave such projects to the warming days next spring when you are aching to get outside and do something restorative. Better yet, call in a professional to do the shutters and trim. Either way, use your weekend to take in a football game with pre- and post-game tailgating, highlighted by a chili cook-off among friends.

Already nights have that telltale chill to them, and you know that only colder ones are in the offing. You may ask yourself, "Am I ready to start the wood stove?" Well, if you got that much-needed exercise cutting wood last spring, you should be. If not, buy a cord of wood, and call the chimney sweep to come bless your smokestack. Then take the family and friends on a long hike through the woods. Along the way, collect kindling you will need to start the stove up. Take a thermos of hot mulled cider for the invigorating journey, along with a picnic lunch to enjoy in the surroundings of the fabulous fall scenery.

What should you do to your lawn at this time of year? Well you could mow it, rake leaves, and spread a feeding of fall fertilizer (something with an N-P-K formula like 20-8-8). It is characteristically lower in nitrogen ("N") than the fertilizer you apply in the spring, and includes more phosphorous ("P") to promote root and shoot growth. You can also overseed your lawn if it has bare spots, or slit-seed it to make it denser next year. However, this takes considerable time, and you won’t see real results until sometime next year, and then only if you do a really superb job.

As an alternative, it will take less time to get comparative quotes for a lawn service to take care of this annual chore. In the time left over, you might take the family to visit a corn maze and search for the perfect pumpkin. Cap the day with a homemade pumpkin pie for dessert. Another, more relaxing alternative is a tour of one of the state's winery trails. You can inhale the seasonal scenery and enjoy some fall foods, as well as sample the vintner's potables.

So, you see, you don’t always have to do it yourself. There are alternate routes to project completion, and they can be lined with colorful ways to enjoy a personal season of change.

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