This is the time of year when we Midwesterners prepare our homes, and ourselves, for the coming Winter months.

We browse through the Farmer’s Almanac, hoping to learn whether we’ll be in for lots of snow and ice, or whether it will be a mild Winter. We service our cars so we won’t get stranded on some lonely road in the middle of nowhere. We get our flu shots (or take our chances without!), load up on canned goods, and mentally prepare ourselves to dig in and hibernate, perhaps with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book!

When I was younger and living in an apartment in the South, it wasn’t a big deal to winterize. Weeks wouldn’t go by when you couldn’t get out of your own parking lot. All we had to do was hang a few Christmas decorations, and we were ready for the season. Not so living in a house in the Midwest.

One thing on the “must-do” list now is to call the heating/air conditioning company and have your furnaces checked — you don’t want to be without heat in sub-freezing temps!

You’ve also got to pull up the remains of the garden (it’s no longer producing veggies anyway) and look over the outside flowers to determine which (if any!) can be brought inside and babied until Spring.

Then there’s the outside furniture and grill; they’re cleaned and relegated to storage. And, once the farmers have harvested their corn and soybeans, you might want to wash the dust off the windows of your house. I say might because, while my mom is a firm believer in this practice, I rank it up there with leaf-raking (a pointless waste of time!)

Which reminds me — you do have to do something with all those leaves. Some communities have huge leaf vacs to suck them from curbside (where residents have raked them); others recommend bagging them for citywide pickup and disposal. You also can run them over with a mulching mower and let them naturally decompose. Whatever, it’s just not neighborly to let them blow from one yard to the next and hope somebody else’s fence row will catch them!

You’ve got to get out the storm doors, clean them, and put them up in place of the screened ones, which then must be stored. Oh, and don’t forget to clean the leaves out of your gutters before they turn into soggy, nasty, black things that nobody would want to touch! If you have a fireplace, you’ll probably want to have it checked (yes, there are such folks as chimney sweeps, and they do even get rid of unwanted animal nests!)

I like to give my Sheltie a nice bath while it’s still sunny and warm enough to dry him outside. With all his profusion of fur, no way do I want to be drying that coat of his indoors — and making more work for myself!

After all this, then you can hang the Christmas decorations, toast some marshmallows, make a pot of tea, and snuggle down with a thick novel!


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