The Mast-Head: Best of the Year

Fall’s fast turn usually catches me somewhat unprepared

   There is a bit of irony in that the weekend I spent touching up our storm windows and getting them in place was followed by a week in which temperatures approached summer-like highs.

    Fall’s fast turn usually catches me somewhat unprepared, and, like Jimmy Carter, I am okay with pulling on a sweater on a cold morning. But the rest of the family howls in protest if the house is too cold for their liking when they arise. So, missing out on what might be considered more enjoyable Saturday and Sunday activities, such as fishing or accompanying the younger kids to the Amagansett School fair, I spent those days scraping, priming, and painting.

    Truth is, I like these chores, especially during transitional weather, though I can never quite keep up. Taking down the screens on our seven double-hung windows and putting up the storms is hardly a bother, and even patching loose spots in the glazing putty has its pleasures, as unseen birds twitter and chatter and chirp in the nearby swamp.

    Our modest garden continues to produce, with miracle kale bought as seedlings in May at Amagansett’s Amber Waves Farm offering up leaves after three cuttings. A fall crop awaits transfer to the ground from its peat-pot nursery. Our 3-year-old’s school-project string bean has flowered anew and put out about a pod a week since the weather cooled. I noticed these things as I waited between coats of paint.

    There are still some squash around, which I intend to put up as pickles. Cranberries must be getting ripe in the bogs, and if there is time, I want to take the kids clamming before it gets too cold. Then there is the trustees’ contest Sunday; can we dig a winner before the deadline?

    This is a funny period — not yet fall, but certainly not summer. The four seasons, the ordinary calendar distinctions, seem inadequate. Words fail. But it is, we know, the best time of the year.