The great American lyricist Maxwell Anderson summed up the imperatives of this time of year better than anyone else:
"Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December / But the days grow short when you reach September."
No, wait. We've already slid into November, for Pete's sake. Definitely time to gather nuts, pack on an extra layer of protective fat and prepare to hibernate.
Alas, unlike many of the smarter species on the planet, humans have never really appreciated the wisdom of just snoozing away the frozen months of discontent, dreaming of glorious Shakespearian summer yet to come.
So we brazen it out, telling ourselves winter can be even more fun than any other season, provided we have the foresight to plan ahead. Because, as Anderson reminds us:
"When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame / One hasn't got time for the waiting game."
Even Santa Claus, that exemplar of mid-winter fun, is making lists and checking them twice. After centuries of experience, the jolly old elf knows enough to heed Anderson's warning:
"Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few / September, November..."
In that spirit, I offer a brief checklist of things that should be demanding my attention before the world turns all inclement.
1. Rake up the carpet of soggy leaves and shift it to the compost bin. Put away garden fork and move snow shovel to front of storage shed. No problem; I don't have a yard, a garden, or even a sidewalk to tend. No shed, either.
2. Buy a new car battery, check the relevant fluid levels, get those snow tires on before disaster strikes, for once. Simple; we don't even own a vehicle.
3. Bank the foundation of the house with bales of hay to keep out the icy blasts. Nope; we live in a second-storey apartment.
4. Polish the storm windows with vinegar and an old copy of the WUY, then risk life and limb installing them. Forget it; that's the landlord's job.
5. Gently exterminate the platoon of field mice that recently decided we needed room-mates. Ditto; call the landlord.
6. Change the furnace filter, clean the chimney flue, replace batteries in smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. "Hello, landlord? Me again."
7. Seal the heat-leaking cracks identified at great expense last January. "Oh, one more thing, landlord."
There, that was easy, eh? Which leaves just one more chore on the list.
8. Stock up on rum and nutmeg. The days are dwindling down toward eggnog time.