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MARTHA SEZ: The leaves have fallen and the clock is ticking

October 18, 2013
MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Columbus Day weekend is upon is, just a little too late, as usual, for peak leaf color.

A lot of us worry every autumn about the leaves-will they be spectacular this year? Was there too much rain, or not enough? And so on. Of course, there is nothing we can do about it. Soon our visitors will go home, and the town will feel strangely quiet. Time to get at those projects we've been putting off!

Maybe you are not a procrastinator.

Still, you must have some yard work you could be finishing up. I'm sure those leaves need raking. The garden isn't looking so hot anymore, after that frost. The zucchini plants, so prolific only a week or so ago, are lying on the ground like so much overcooked spinach. One good thing is, it's only a matter of time now until all of the zucchini squash we picked and put into the vegetable bin of the refrigerator has rotted enough that it can be thrown away, and then we needn't concern ourselves with zucchini again for a long time.

Same goes for the apples on the kitchen counter. This is a great year for apples, and we've picked plenty from the tree out back. They looked fine for pie apples-just cut around the bad spots-but now they're looking questionable.

Winging rotten fruits and vegetables out the back door into the garden area is not the same thing as really composting.

It's nice to know that some problems take care of themselves. Procrastination can work to your advantage.

Unfortunately, just when one anxiety-producing aspect of life, like peak leaf, or zucchini, or rotten apples, is passing away over the horizon, and we're happily waving it good-bye and shouting "See you next year!" another one is looming up behind us.

Like Christmas.

Some people, I know, are already done with their Christmas shopping, or at least have a good start on it. I know this, because these people are always bringing it up, bragging. I don't believe that's truly the Christmas spirit, because how do they think the rest of us feel? Don't they know we have boxes of craft projects - they're around here somewhere -that we must locate and dust off and pick up on where we left off last year?

Making gifts is tricky. It is not easy to assemble beads or pieces of wood or whatever in such a way that recipients will exclaim, "Oh, I love it! Did you make this all by yourself?" without feeling, deep inside, that a cashmere sweater or a pair of store-bought earrings would have been preferable, perhaps even more meaningful.

For years, I have been planning to give my sister a painted floor cloth for Christmas. Right now it is simply a large piece of plain canvas waiting to be hemmed. Do I glue the edges under, or sew them? I always seem to get stuck at this point.

I would like to start painting it, but no, the instructions in my craft magazine - I saw it just the other day and am pretty sure I could put my hand on it in a matter of minutes - clearly state that the edges must be dealt with first, and then the design carefully sketched out on graph paper. It would save me a lot of time and worry just to decide right now to put off the floor cloth project for another year, or even two.

Worrying about Christmas now, in October, is good because the holiday season is still quite far away, and therefore produces less anxiety than more immediate tasks, like putting the garden to bed, paying bills, doing sit-ups, brushing up on the history of the Middle East, and so on. To perform one is to neglect another, possibly even more important, task.

Worrying about Christmas now is also less stressful than thinking about Thanksgiving, because Thanksgiving is coming right up, and you should already have made plans. There's still plenty of time to pick up Halloween candy; I wouldn't worry about that yet.

You have to admire people who don't procrastinate. And in a way you have to feel sorry for them too, because they will never know the guilty pleasure of reading a good novel or a frivolous newspaper column while turning a blind eye to the basket of apples going bad on the counter and a deaf ear to the clock on the wall ticking away the minutes to Christmas.

Have a good week.



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