Flexibility

It’s seventy degrees and I’m outside painting the siding for my shack.

Did I mention it’s the first day in November?

That’s about thirty degrees warmer than I expected it to be.

Actually, what I expected for the first day of November is three feet of snow and a cold wind off the North Pole.

Because that’s what I always expect in November.

I don’t know if there’s anyone in Key West or San Diego who reads this column, but if there is, they must be baffled by how often I write about the weather. When our son was in the Marine Corps and stationed at Camp Pendleton, he’d come out of the barracks in the morning, look around, and say, “Wow, what a beautiful day.” Then everyone would look at him like he was crazy, because almost every day was a beautiful day.

One of the things about living in a place where you have no clue what the weather will bring is that it teaches you a sense of both urgency and flexibility.

You could clearly see the sense of urgency this fall. We’ve had nearly perfect harvesting weather for almost a month, but you’d still see lights in fields late at night. You’d also see guys wearing worried looks and greasy jeans buying greasy food to inhale on their way back to the field. This was the year, maybe the first time ever, when harvest could have been a 40 hour a week job, yet most of the farmers worked as though they had to beat the blizzard hovering over the horizon.

That didn’t mean they weren’t in a good mood. One of the odd things about harvest is that it’s kind of relaxing. In the ordinary course of events on a farm, there are about six different things you could be doing at any given time. Many jobs are like that. During harvest, all that confusion falls away. You just get up in the morning, grease the combine, and hit the road. The paperwork might be piling up on your desk, but it just has to wait. It’s a good feeling – clarity combined with urgency.

The flexibility you need is even more interesting. Sitting in my office in March, I had a plan for my shack project. A reasonable expectation for being able to accomplish outside work is around seven months. We had no other big events planned, so I thought I’d have ample spare time to whittle away at my goal. As the summer wore on, my life got more complicated. I was having trouble getting my rafters, so I adjusted my goals to just getting a roof on it before the snow started to fall. Then things started to fall into place. I got the bare structure mostly enclosed, got a foot of dirt on what will be a grass roof, and breathed a sigh of relief. Then the siding showed up from the sawmill. I checked the weather forecast that predicted three warm days in a row. I had planned to put the siding on and paint it next summer, which left me plenty of time to choose paint colors. Instead, I spent much of Sunday staring at web sites of Norwegian house colors and finally settled on a tasteful charcoal color. I was tense when I wasn’t making progress, relieved when I was, relaxed when I had the roof on. Now I’m tense, because the clock is ticking again, and snow showers predicted in about seven days.

A lot of folks are in the same boat. Every time I go to town I see ditch cleaning, tree trimming, and other long delayed jobs being brought to fruition, with more to do.

“Geez,” some of you are probably saying. “Why can’t you take yes for an answer? The weather’s been perfect, you’ve gotten a lot done, why can’t you just be satisfied?”

To those people I say…

The truth is, I don’t say anything. No time to talk; I have painting to do.

Winter is coming.

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson