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Autumn is not my favorite season probably because I view it as a prelude to snow, ice and cold, an issue I’ve avoided for the past ten years by travelling south with the ducks and geese. Well, I don’t fly with them. I drive with my husband.
I thought I might feel better about fall this year because the first few days of it were sunny and bright, warm, with the nights in the high sixties. I could almost appreciate my husband’s love of autumn light which he contends is different from all other light. He’s a real romantic.
Then the weather did what it usually does in upstate New York. Suddenly it turned cold, trees let go their leaves overnight, the ones remaining moving beyond their peak color to brown. What happened to all that light, I demanded of hubby? He seemed less taken with the season also as he began his almost daily mulching of the leaves in our yard. My mums began to droop. It was a signal. It was time to prepare for our yearly trek south.
In all fairness, our trip used to be more of a chore. Actually it resembled Moses moving his people across the dessert—fewer people involved, yes, no burning bushes, no parting of the seas, but those impediments were replaced by others. The cats must go to the vet for their yearly shots, a task I put off until the last minute because I have difficulty facing the throwing up in his carrier that my male cat has taken to doing the past few years. We thought we had solved his problem by shoving anti-nausea tablets down his throat before the journey to the vet, but he must have pouched the pill because this time he threw up. And he found another terrific way to let us know he didn’t like the trip. He urinated in the carrier.
His older sister is the queen of drama when we put her in the carrier for the annual vet visit, and I’m not saying it’s a fuss before the visit, on the way to the vet or while we’re there. It’s much more. She singles me out as the cruel one and avoids me for the next two weeks. To her credit she does not urp in her carrier. She urinates, yes, and then defecates. I don’t understand how cat poop can be so relatively odor free when at home and so stinky when accomplished in a carrier.
But as I said, it’s not as much of a hassle as it used to be. Before we bought our sexy convertible with its own set of problems associated with the Florida trip, we travelled in our huge pick-up truck (diesel with four doors), towing our sedan with my husband’s motorcycle in the bed of the truck, and, lest I forget, almost every worldly possession we could cram into the truck and the car. We both imagined the car to be a kind of closet on wheels so why not take my entire wardrobe, even my snow boots, six pairs of jeans, an extra pair of gloves, a ski cap, and wool socks?
People stared at us when we stopped at a motel. Here’s a sampling of what we took into our room: two cat carriers with two cats usually yelling by that time, a litter box, litter scoop, small broom and dustpan to clean up the litter on the floor, bag or box of cat litter, cat dishes, cat food, paper towels, wet naps, and plastic bags, cuz you never can tell. Then there was our stuff: two suitcases, computer bags (we are writers after all), lock box with important papers, more important papers, shoe bag because my shoes never fit into my suitcase, carrying bags, one each, for nicer clothes in case we ate someplace that required other than jeans with cat fur on them, heavy winter coats until we got to South Carolina, traveling bar (just in case we landed in a dry town and needed a little relaxation), cold bag with all the food we cleaned out of our fridge but just couldn’t throw out, and food that didn’t need refrigeration but that we couldn’t throw out. That doesn’t sound so bad. I must have left out something.
Did I mention that the female cat is very picky about motel rooms? She likes classy places and will yowl all night long if we try anything mid-price. Expected cost of the trip? More than if we spent several months sailing around the world.
Once settled in to our room after twenty or so trips back and forth between the car/truck/motorcycle, it sometimes didn’t seem worth the effort to go out to eat. “I’ll just have chips from the vending machine and this bottle of scotch.”
Because we were towing, we couldn’t back-up so we had to find a parking space to accommodate driving out the next morning by going forward. How many times did somebody insist on wedging his Cadillac directly in front of us so we had to unhook to get out the next morning?
But now the whole trip is so much easier. We put all the vehicles except for the convertible in storage, and we drive the convertible. Sounds much easier, but it actually takes more planning to get all our stuff in that car. Like all convertibles, it has an inadequate trunk, yet we cannot leave any of the cat paraphernalia behind, nor the cats, can we? So it’s the cat stuff minus our stuff. Several years of this much reduced cargo taught us we needed to pare down even more, so this year we plan to carry only two overnight bags and one hanging clothes bag. And two toothbrushes. My husband is under the misperception that I won’t need as many shoes. He’s wrong. He seems to be looking at the trunk as if it is a walk-in closet which he intends to fill with a convection oven and his cowboy hats which need space so they won’t get crushed. It’s fine to crush my hats I guess.
The house must be shut down. Hubby believes that means draining the pipes and shutting off the heat. I know it means cleaning the whole house as if I expect the mice invading the place while we’re gone will be offended by a dirty bathtub. Then there’s forwarding mail, shutting off services such as phone, internet, television, but not too soon in case we need to stay an extra day or too late so as to incur an extra month’s charges. And what we did to the house up north to leave must be reversed to get our house in the south ready for us to arrive.
There are parties to throw, parties to go to, dinners where we meet friends before we leave and when we arrive.
I really don’t care about the light. Autumn is exhausting. I’m looking forward to the relaxing days of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Lesley, thank you for sharing. I enjoyed your guest post. I love Autumn but agree that it's a grim reminder of the coming winter, which I'm definitely not a fan of and can do without. I hope you enjoy the winter in the warmer weather!
Hope you all can stay and chat for a bit with Lesley.