GNH Lumber

Whittling Away: Ready for winter


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

There’s this silly thing that happens every year and it seems to be happening a little earlier each year. My wardrobe appears to be shrinking.

It usually happens around the holidays, but this year it is happening already. Pants are harder to fasten, shirt buttons are starting to gap and my socks seem to be getting smaller, or at least they’re harder to get on. 

I don’t think it has to do with the laundry detergent we’re using since that hasn’t changed. The other family members don’t seem to be affected by this, in fact The Queen’s clothing appears to be getting larger.

Upon further thought I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just another sign that the oncoming winter is going to be a hard one and my body is storing food to help with winter survival. Just as the Beluga whale’s layer of blubber helps protect it from the cold, my body is preparing for arctic blasts. Nature is a wonderful thing.

To confirm my hard winter theory, I went looking for a wooly bear caterpillar. They are hard to find this fall but persistence won out and I finally located one. The little prognosticator was stripeless, pure black. I decided this was not a good omen, especially since I found him near the highway wearing sunglasses and holding up a sign that said simply, “Miami.” 

Trying to be fair and scientific about things and wanting a second opinion, I went to the ultimate authority, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.” Things don’t look good! 

I ran through my mental files for all the old weather sayings I could remember pertaining to snow and cold. “Birds flying low — there will come snow” — that could explain the flock of geese that strolled past the house yesterday, honking their way south. “When the days start to lengthen, the cold starts to strengthen” — the days are still getting shorter and already I’m freezing! 

The trees in my yard are still green and haven’t started to lose their leaves and yet I went to the back of the closet and dug out my heavy winter jacket before taking my trusty canine companion out for his morning stroll and it’s still October. Guess I’d better bank the house and check the wood pile.

Everywhere you turn there are signs of an early and hard winter. The stores already have their Christmas displays up and I heard Christmas carols being played in one the other day. It kind of looks like Santa may be coming really early this year, probably driving a team of turkeys by the looks of it.

Then while wandering through one of our larger stores last week, I came upon the most definite sign that winter is almost upon us. There was a young clerk who was taking down the summer display of heavy coats, scarves and mittens, and was putting up a display of bathing suits and tennis outfits.

Better go check the snow blower. See you in the spring.

Thought for the week — A youth becomes a man when the marks he wants to leave on the world have nothing to do with tire tracks.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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