Ha, we kept hearing that on Game of Thrones. But there are no White Walkers in Western Massachusetts, thankfully, just a lot of people thinking and planning ahead for the inevitable.
Yes, I have experienced New England winters most of my life. I did have a short hiatus in Seattle and a much longer one recently, eleven years, in New Mexico. (Northern New Mexico at 7,000 or so feet elevation does have a winter, but it’s shorter and sunnier.)
The worst was when I had to commute in them, from the hilltowns to Northampton, where I worked as a newspaper editor. I left at exactly 6:10 a.m. because I knew a plow truck would hit our road ten minutes earlier, and then made my way through four towns. I kept three compound buckets of sand in the rear of the Subaru for ballast. I left for home when it was still daylight. Yes, there were storms, including treacherous ice storms.
That’s not a worry for me now. I no longer commute to a job.
But as we drive around getting to know the northern hilltowns of Western Mass., I watch highway crews clearing vegetation along the roadsides with heavy equipment. Road construction needs to get finished before the first snows hit. There is also a time limit on any outside carpentry projects.
Naturally, I see stacks of firewood in yards.
The roadside farm stands now offer pumpkins, winter squashes, and apples.
Even the leaves of the maples and other hardwoods are fading.
And people keep warning me about winter. I remarked to Alice at our favorite coffee shop in Shelburne Falls how friendly people have been. She joked, “Wait until winter.”
As for Hank and I, this will be the first time in many years we won’t have a woodstove. The apartment we’re renting doesn’t have one. So, there won’t be the ritualistic stacking of wood or the glow of a fire. I won’t have a garden to put to bed nor will I be planting garlic for next year’s harvest. (I am hopeful all of that will change next year.)
He and I have already gone over our inventory of winter clothing, including long johns, and feel we have enough.
But our serious winter preparation came yesterday when we bought an AWD Subaru, used but with relatively low miles. We got a good deal after trips to several dealerships, not my favorite pastime, but they were enlightening experiences. The Subaru will come in handy when we need to drive somewhere and the roads are iffy.
After all, winter is coming.
ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Sunflowers on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.
ONE MORE THING: I have been remiss in not posting info about my books for sale on Amazon, including my most recent, The Sweet Spot, set in Western Mass. Check them out: https://www.amazon.com/Joan-Livingston/e/B01E1HKIDG