"Prepping for Winter"
Right after Halloween my family would begin the process of preparing for winter. This seems like such an old way of thinking about the seasons. Here in the 2000's winter is is just the time to change clothes in the closets and maybe put a few of the summer tools away, but back in the 1960's it was a lot different.
It was time to rake leaves and though there are still activities around fallen leaves - it's changed... a lot! First off - who actually rakes anymore? I'm one of the last ones on my street to get a backpack blower. I would have done anything back in the 60's for a backpack blower. That was simply unheard of. There were three HUGE trees in our front yard. Each one produced enormous amounts of leaves. Just walking through the front yard you'd be in about 5 to 6 inches of leaves. Everywhere. Dad would pray for winds that would blow the dang things to the neighbor's yard - but that never happened.
Our process was to rake leaves into huge piles. Piles big enough to jump in and never worry about getting hurt. There would be three huge piles that we made every year. After jumping in them with delight - we'd have to drag them to the woods. Dad would pull out old bed sheets, and we'd rake those leaves onto the sheets, then drag them through the back yard to the leaf pile. The yard would be clean after probably 20 such trips.
Dad had a sneaky way of diminishing the work. As we raked those leaves into piles, he would take all the leaves within 20 feet of the house and rake them up to the side of the house, creating a creating a little "snowdrift" of leaves that would cover the "foundation" around the house. I now realize that this was his clever way of only doing 20 trips to the back yard instead of 30. Dad said it was to insulate the house. I fell for that as a kid... I think better of it now...
Then we worked on the storm windows. Storm windows were kept in the basement, all leaning together against the stone walls of the "cellar". We would open up the two wooden doors that covered the steep stone steps into that cellar. One by one we would hoist those windows and lug them to their places. Each window was marked for the window that it fit. Nothing was "to spec" when this house was built. Every window was custom made for the window that it covered. These weren't insulating windows, mind you... They were just one more layer that we pretended kept the Connecticut freezing cold outside more than in.
These weren't small windows - not by a long shot. Each one stood about 6 feet high and four feet across. They were old glass panes. If one of the panes was broken you had to go to the glass man with the exact size you wanted. You'd then replace them with small little pieces of hardware to keep them in place, and then put putty all around to seal them.
After inspecting the panes it was time to lift them into place and then screw them into the same screw holes that were used in the past. Not too tight because you didn't want to strip the holes. That would require a lot more work, and dad did whatever he could to avoid that!
While all this was happening outside the house, my mother and grand mothers were busy canning everything from the garden. Mason jars would be sterilized and then packed with the excess throughout the summer as different veggies were ready.
After canning the jars would be taken to the cellar and put onto shelves. Maybe I have a mental block about this, but I don't ever remember us actually using anything from that collection of science experiments. There would be a lot of talk about whether this one or that one had "gone bad", but to the best of my knowledge - those mason jars are still sitting on those shelves. We didn't clean them out when we sold the house... My guess is that every pathogen known to man was sealed inside those jars. I'm sure there are toxins in there that would drop an elephant. This could well be an explanation for the origins of COVID19 - some family in Wuhan opened up a canning jar from the 1960's...
Leaves around the foundation, storm windows and canned goods. These are three things that were done every year - and done more for the tradition than they did any damn good.
So how did your family prep for winter? Anything kookier than I just reported? Keep smiling and share the love....