A home for all seasons


We have tire tracks along the side of our driveway.

Ok… a few realities: (1) The tracks are there because either Terry or I (or both of us) ended up off the true edge of the driveway. (2) It happens every year, actually a handful or more times every year, when we get a combination of rainy weather and softer muddy ground and don’t back in to the driveway quite as straight as we think we are. (3) It’s not all that big a deal.

Still… there they are… tire tracks. And… there I am… outside with a bow rake in hand, attempting to soften the edges so that trenches move a bit closer to resembling uneven waves and further from obvious trenches.

I’m not sure I’m actually all that successful with my efforts. One year I used a car to just drive back and forth to smooth things out a bit. Plus, once everything settles… another storm, a bit more frost, a bit more rain, cooler and warmer and cooler and warmer and rainy and dry and steadily improving into spring… eventually the edges of the driveway will smooth and level and I doubt any of my efforts will have changed a thing in either direction, pro or con.

What has changed is that I am aware of outside again. Things kind of shut down out in our yard for the winter. Yes, I work in the driveway when I need to on snow removal and more. Sure, I pay attention to the bird feeders. But it’s not like the summer, with a lawn to mow and flowers to water. The tire tracks though… yeah… that’s a sign.

We began the calendar year around here with single-digit high temperatures for about three weeks straight. The ground was solid. I could have driven out onto the lawn, floored the accelerator, spun the steering wheel, and been more likely to slide along like a curling stone than to leave any marks of significance.

Not now though.

Tire tracks. Right there next to the driveway.

Do you have projects that come about at different points of the year?

How about air conditioning? Maybe you put a couple of air conditioners into the windows in May or June. Maybe you have a central air, and that box outside—the compressor… or condenser… or fan… or whatever your particular make and model and manufacturer call the dang thing—needs to be covered for the winter. (Or perhaps you don’t cover it. And maybe you flip the circuit breaker for it to shut things down.)

When do you pay attention to your heating needs?

Usually I don’t pay too much attention to the oil tank in our house for three of the seasons. I sort of nod in the general direction of the tank in October or November, just in case we actually need a delivery of oil to top things off as we start the colder months. But the reality is, other than a casual glance now and again, it’s mid to late December before I really become aware of the gauge on top. And that awareness drifts off as concerns of having enough to get to warmer days are eased… you know, roughly around the time we start seeing tire tracks along the side of the driveway. (More precisely, usually in the opening weeks of March.)

I like to know we have it to start the season when the heat goes on. I like to check to make sure we won’t have an emergency where we are both low on oil and have snow in the forecast that would make a delivery difficult.

Funny thing is, I doubt if much of my home owner concerns are all that different from yours. A bit of circumstances, a touch of surroundings, and a shift in the specifics. You don’t get snow where you live… one of us has a shed and the other a larger garage… a few details differ. But most of it is quite likely the same.

There are certain dates on the calendar… moments when we either see our shadows or don’t (figuratively speaking)… where our thoughts and efforts suddenly spin off into a checklist of demands. Gutter cleaning, garden planting, firewood stacking, lawn mowing, seasonal realities.

Right now, it just so happens that spring is approaching. We all move our snow blowers and make the lawn mowers more accessible. The furniture for the decks get uncovered. It’s not all that different from deciding when to paint, checking the oil tank, or figuring out where you put the tarps after finishing with the leaves last year (since they’re eventually going to start falling again).

I’ve been watching the forecast. Garage needs to be cleaned out. A variety of reasons behind it… but I have buckets of water and cardboard boxes and a few other items that are ready to be sorted and moved. I want to open the garage door to do it. Maybe put a thing or two outside when I do, just to create some room to work. But I’m convinced at least one final storm is in our future around here, and I don’t feel like attacking the project on a windy and rainy and brutally cold day.

But the changes are coming. I can see that. I don’t believe we’ll need another oil run to make it into the summer. I’m wondering if the rototiller will start, so that I can clear out a garden for this year. For now though…

I just need that bow rake. Tire tracks to tend to.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com