Sick and tired of reading about the mushroom cloud spread of COVID-19 and the petty politics of what’s left of our battered democracy?
So let’s talk about something nice – the weather.
Call it global warming, climate change, a heat wave – whatever – I don’t care. The sun-filled 70-degree days of November have been an absolute delight here in Northeast Arkansas.
Even with temperatures now only reaching the lower 60s, the sunshine from that yellow star hanging ever lower in the southern sky has brightened our days and kept furnaces from blowing more hot air at night (not so much the politicians).
With tree leaves having already turned brilliant yellows, reds and oranges and fallen to the ground, it’s been a gorgeous fall.
The last brown hangers-on are floating to the ground as another wisp of wind finally tugs them from their branches. Cooler temperatures will make raking them into piles more pleasant. Some might even take a playful plunge. With the winds of luck, they may be blown into a neighbor’s yard for final disposal.
If it weren’t for fall’s foreboding of winter, it might be my favorite time of year. But mine is spring, when the last vestiges of Old Man Winter have been beaten back with longer days, warmer nights and the promise of new life budding everywhere. Spring forecasts summer, which, if not for its often scorching temperatures and soaring humidity, would be a contender for favorite season.
I don’t like winter. I loved it as a boy, going sledding, ice skating, making money shoveling walks and driveways. Sledding at Billy Goat Hill so long that my frozen feet hurt more when my mother tried to warm them after a long day riding my Flexible Flyer on the slopes.
It felt like flying, freedom.
Still, not even the bonfires could penetrate my frozen toes after hours of near zero temperatures.
These days, even when the temperatures reach into the 50s, my feet – numb from years of neuropathy – are reminded of those frigid days.
If a life is separated into seasons, I guess I’m nearing the end of fall, fighting in any way possible to keep the winter at bay. The first 12 days of November certainly helped despite harrowing reports of COVID-19 spread and all the negative national election drama.
The other day I walked into our bathroom and looked around, wondering why I had entered. I knew I had gone in there for a specific purpose, but had forgotten why. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. After a few seconds, I remembered I needed to take my neuropathy medicine.
I never forget a face, but names, that’s quite another matter. I remember a year or so ago I was standing next to a longtime friend in the clubhouse after playing a round of golf when two other friends from out of town walked in. They didn’t know my friend, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember his name to introduce them.
Embarrassingly, they made their own introductions.
With Wife working in health care, wearing a mask eight hours a day, I’ve gladly volunteered to do the grocery shopping on weekends so she can stay home without having to wear a mask for a couple days. It’s not uncommon for me to get in the car with the purpose of driving to Kroger and wind up in The Sun’s employee parking lot – like my car automatically drives itself there.
It’s a good thing I don’t work in Memphis.
A couple of weeks ago, I went shopping at one of those mega-grocery stores. When I left, I rolled my shopping cart a half-block down one of the parking lanes only to find my car missing. I clicked my remote but heard no beeps and saw no flashing lights.
I tried another lane and another and another. No vehicle.
I pushed that loaded grocery cart through half the parking lot before I finally found my car. I envisioned the security people watching their monitors inside having a field day, watching this lost customer’s ice cream melt as he agonizingly searched for his misplaced vehicle.
Then there’s the garage door. I accidentally left it open a couple times and received the appropriate admonishment from Wife for my impatience. Since then, I’ve made it a practice to pull out of the garage and wait until the door is fully closed for several seconds, taking a last glance as I pull out of the driveway.
I have been faithful to this process without fault.
Still, I find myself getting to the stop sign at the end of our block and wondering if I actually waited long enough to ensure the door closed. I turn around in a neighbor’s driveway and head back home to find it closed.
Sometimes repetitive actions can be the most easy to forget.
The other thing I’ve noticed since turning 60 is my skin – the human body’s largest organ. I never really thought much about my skin until now. When I was a kid, we didn’t have sunscreen. I remember those hot summer days at the lake getting burned beet red and Mom putting cold compresses and hand cream on my sunburn to soothe the pain.
Years of golf in my youth without sunscreen fried my nose, face and arms. I always had a “farmer’s tan” in the summer because collared shirts were required on the course.
Now I’m paying for it. I’ve noticed lots of liver spots on my cheeks, forehead and hands.
Wife also says my ears are getting longer and my nose is getting bigger. It’s true, but it’s not because they are growing. Our noses and ears are made of cartilage that breaks down as we age, so they get bigger because of gravity. They don’t grow, according to several health care websites, they just droop.
That’s comforting to know – I’m drooping. Can’t remember names, why I came into this room, where I’m headed, where I parked my car or whether I put the garage door down.
Sometimes I feel like that late fall leaf that’s turned crispy brown but holds onto its branch for dear life. November’s delightful weather has helped keep that feeling at bay.