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Kirby: How to avoid winterizing your yard

Published September 17, 2012 9:03 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Saturday morning I opened the back door and glimpsed the monster of winter in my yard. Life was coming to an end.

Not my life — although that's certainly true enough — but rather the life of summer. It's all over but the sweating. We're just 95 days away from the official dead of winter.

There were no visible snow drifts, icicles, or even yeti in my yard. Just this smell in the air, a subtle whiff of leaf-turning decay letting me know fall is right around the corner.

Maybe it was also the angle of the light. There was more of a golden quality to it now, as if the sun has slid lower on the horizon toward autumn.

Either way, I felt a chill crawl up my back. Autumn is also known as fall, which is just before winter. It's also when responsible people start thinking about winterizing their homes — installing storm windows, covering boats, and changing the anti-freeze in their children.

Winterizing is all about racing the thermometer. You want to get this stuff done before the first big freeze hits. You don't want to get up some morning and find that one of your pets won't start.

But there's still time to procrastinate. We got six days before fall officially arrives. Fall equinox is Sept. 22, at 8:49 a.m.

Note: The word "equinox" stems from the early English phrase of "work equal to that performed by an ox."

For most of my home ownership life, winterizing consisted of shutting the back door and locking it until April. Anything left out there had to fend for itself.

But the longer you own a home, the more [stuff] there is to winterize, and the more expensive it can get if you don't. My wife's short list of my least favorites:

Sprinkler system • The damn thing never worked right during the summer, so I see no reason to spare it a long painful winter of freezing contractions — no reason except for next spring when the water is turned on. The pipes will shiver, squeal and mortar-fire a gopher to the moon before backing up into the basement.

Hoses • They grew during the summer. I started in May with 150 feet. Not counting the half mile of abandoned BLM fire-fighting hose Sonny dragged home from the mountains, I'm ending the 2012 watering year with half a thousand yards of hose that has to be coiled, stacked and stored in the garage.

Tools • I can hate inanimate objects like nobody's business. There's a shovel in my backyard that I hate more than any boss I've ever had, and a garden tiller that I'd shoot (again) if I thought my wife wouldn't lock me out of the house (again).

Clothesline, grandkid toys, watering cans, plastic pool, bird decoys • I'll have to bring all that stuff into the garage and "put it where it belongs."

Well, I'm not doing it right now. I still got time to waste. The official start of winter this year isn't until Dec. 21. That's when the winter solstice hits Utah at 6:12 a.m.

It's no coincidence that winter solstice falls so close to the Christmas holiday. After all, "solstice" is an ancient Greek word roughly translated as "heavy credit card debt."

I'm not living my life by the calendar anymore. Neither are you. For us, this year procrastination may just work.

Come the winter solstice and all that stuff in the yard won't matter. Not after Dec. 21 it won't. That's when the Mayan calendar runs out and we all get winterized for good.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.






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