Yes, it’s coming.
Maybe your area is already showing the effects of autumn. Hopefully, though, you have at least a few more weeks of warm weather — and a few vacation days to enjoy them with. Planning a few actions now will help make life easier, once W– (yes, that word) hits, with its cold and blizzardy winds.
*Oil changes, tuneups and other vehicular thoughts. Schedule them in the same appointment, if your time is limited. Don’t forget oil, antifreeze or windshield washer fluid. (You can even make your own washer fluid.) How are the tires?
*Stock your car now, just in case. A blanket, energy bars, bottled water, kitty litter (for traction under stuck wheels), even an easy candle heater are good items that last indefinitely. Don’t forget an ice scraper and/or small shovel. Flares, jumper cables — and of course, towing coverage — come in handy, too. (More ideas here.)
*How’s your bike? It would also benefit from cleaning and a tuneup.
*Christmas is coming. Set aside a little money each week, if you haven’t done so, already. Make a list. Look for potential gifts on sale.
If you’ll be baking, start looking for basics on sale — sugar, flour, nuts and chocolate chips. If there’s room, bake ahead. Cakes, pies, breads and cookies (the latter two baked, or balls of dough) can be successfully frozen. Specialty meats and many types of seafood freeze well, too.(While you’re at it, look for linens, candles and paper goods you can use for the holidays. Last season’s items may still be on clearance — and they’re just as good.)
*Put it away — clean it up first. If you’re any kind of normal, you’ve got shovels, rakes and other outdoorsy stuff hanging around, waiting for use. Scrape them clean, hose them off…and if you’re done for the season, oil them a little. When frost hits, you’ll also want to clean and put away lawn mowers, hanging baskets and garden hose. While you’re at it, clean and cover air conditioners, lawn furniture, and store cushions and umbrellas.
*Clear out the flower beds and vegetable garden. Just before frost hits, pick every garden veggie. (Green tomatoes will ripen up nicely, if wrapped in newspaper and put in a cool place. After frost, dig potatoes, carrots and other root veggies. Clear away dead vines and growth, and lay down a thick layer of compost, leaves, hay or straw, to put your gardens “to bed” and let them rest. (Plant some things first, like tulip bulbs, iris roots, garlic or onion sets, for a headstart next year. Some greens, like spinach, should reappear next spring, if growing now.)
*Check your wardrobe. Wash and put away the shorts, tops and sandals. (If your closet is stuffed, try under-the-bed boxes. Add a bar of soap before closing, to keep things fresh.) Now haul out as many of your cold-weather clothes, as possible. Spread them out, and take a look. Are they clean, with no stains? Do they still fit? (You may *ahem* have gained some weight.) Do you have enough clothes — or way too many? Choose what you really love, make any repairs needed, and donate the extra. Less-fortunate people get cold, too. (Use it as a tax donation.)
Take some time to clean your leather goods, as well. Jackets and boots will wear better this winter, if conditioned now. While you’re at it, take heavy coats to the drycleaner’s, and donate anything you won’t actively be wearing.
Then, and only then, should you think about more clothes. Or boots. Or jackets. Don’t forget to check the same place you just made those donations to — the thrift shop is a great place to find quality stuff.
*Buy now — while it’s cheap. Peaches, apples and other fruit are in full flavor right now — and cheap, compared to what they’ll cost (and taste like) months from now. A half-bushel of fruit stores well in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. Or preserve it for later.
Don’t forget about other staples, like potatoes, onions — and green chilies. The wafting smell of roasting peppers is one of the first signs of autumn out here in the West.
*Do some things, wellness-wise — like clearing your refrigerator of fading produce, as well as throwing out too-old spices, stale crackers and other outdated goodies.
*Look for sales on durable foods. Rice, beans, oatmeal, boxed mac and cheese, canned soup, canned tomatoes — these keep well, and give you an emergency stash at the same time. And they taste awfully good on a cold, stormy night.
Meanwhile, take advantage of every summer freebie you can get your hands on. Enjoy… it will soon be over.