I cannot be left with my thoughts these last few days. I emerge from the experience in a ratty mood that doesn’t benefit anyone, least of all myself. Plus I take it a step further, unleashing self-recrimination for indulging in the mood in the first place.

There’s a trigger to all this fear and [self] loathing in Lovettsville.  It’s the weather.

I am cold. And dammit I hate being cold. I freaking hate it.

I feel like this is happening to my fingers.

Autumn unofficially left the building on Monday. Tell tale signs: Frigid winds. Frozen chicken waterers. A pissy resident gardener swearing at a summer-holiday closet filled with tee-shirts – her sweaters still in storage.

Sure we have a couple weeks of ‘official autumn’ to go, but no one in the MidAtlantic, Northeast, or Midwest really believes that horseshit – it’s winter now and I’ve got to get with the program and make the transition.  And unlike the transition between winter and spring, or between spring and summer, or between summer and fall, it takes me a little time each year to absorb, accept and embrace anything that could be termed (on freakishly happy lifestyle sites) as “the #blessings of winter”. 

wreath making cold

You know the drill.

Oh those #blessings exist all right. Once I get there I’m golden.  I’m Carhartted up. I’m rosy cheeked. I’m taking advantage of every day I can work in the garden without the growing season undoing three-quarters of my efforts by the time I clock out each day. I’m staring at the dogwoods, and hellebores, and witchhazels, sighing with delight, etc… and enjoying the bone-warming pleasure of a roaring fire when the work-day ends.

But right now I’m still in a place where the phrase ‘#blessings of winter’ simultaneously turns my stomach and makes my eyes roll back into my head.

And this year, that fall/winter, warm/cold, light/dark, life/death transition is going to take WAY more of me to make.

cold weather

We’re not here yet, but it’s definitely cold enough.

Whether it’s the stench of politics that wafts through every aspect of our lives, the scratchy mask fogging up my cold glasses at the grocery store, or my worry over small businesses of friends and family who are doing Cirque de Soleil acrobatics to stay open and keep food on their tables, everything is trying my patience right now.  And those are the big things.

I’m not proud to say that it is the tiny, inconsequential, misanthropic, thoroughly petty, pet peeves that threaten to overwhelm me in what could be considered textbook transference.

Take wanting to lose it every time I hear the phrase “Stay Safe.” Which, as others are no doubt experiencing, is about 20-30 times a day, maybe more.

For the record, I hated that phrase long before COVID-19 put its boots on and hit the pavement – and now I positively loathe it. 

By all means, tell me to wash my hands, to take precautions, to put a mask on, to stop French kissing random strangers…in other words, ask me to do something specific and actionable, but stop with the mealy-mouthed proclamation uttered with the same insipid intonation as the equally insincere platitude – “Have a Nice Day.”

News flash: You will no more change the path of my day with ‘Stay Safe’ than to tell me to ‘Stay Young.’

And there are so many solid alternatives available! Such as the all-occasion favorite “Goodbye.” or the more committal, “Thanks for coming in.”  And of course, the very human, “This sucks, doesn’t it?”

Apart from the fact that I hate saying words just for the hell of saying words, I particularly hate saying words that hide a Scheisse sandwich in a sugared bun.  I’d far rather be honest with our words so we might be more honest in our actions going forward.

Here’s some honesty: After being told cheerily by X to ‘Stay Safe’, I’m very probably leaving their store/office/nursery/mental health clinic and getting into a two-and-a-half-ton automobile on wet roads.  I’m driving on the interstate next to double-shift truckdrivers hauling gasoline tanks while they scoff their Big Macs and fiddle with Spotify.  I may even be eating some dodgy, not fully warmed take-away later in the evening after trying to rewire two electrical circuits in my barn – by flashlight – on the top of a 12-foot ladder.  Tomorrow I’ll eat wild mushrooms and hunt for unpasteurized Stilton for Christmas in alternative markets that smell of patchouli.  I’ll probably use the Bobcat in the morning to clear some brush on an awkward slope.

My life is not Safe. it is a constant balance of risk vs. reward, otherwise I really couldn’t be bothered to live it. And you can be damn sure that I’m considering both all the time.

stay safe here?

This is my road. More of the time than I would like. No there are no rails on that “bridge.” Safe don’t live in these parts.

That, of course, is a hell of a lot to launch at a 22 year old shop attendant, or a 65 year old Big Box Greeter/Hand Sanitizer — both of whom are just thrilled to be employed right now. So I don’t.

Besides, these days it’s much Safer to keep that sort of thing to yourself.

I really need to hunt out those sweaters.  Soon. – MW