It’s chilly, 24 degrees with a 20-mph northwest breeze. For dramatic effect, I’d tell you what the “wind chill” factor is, but you and I don’t need any more drama. Just figure it’s 24 degrees and blowy. Dress accordingly; summer is both a distant memory and too far away for anticipation. Think back a few months, grab a Moxie from the fridge and let’s talk about the season opposite this one.

The pale chevrons on the tops of my feet from a flip-flop-based summer wardrobe are faded now and hidden by colorful and toasty Acorns from Renys. No doubt in my future are a pair of black, Velcro-closed, clown-size sneakers conforming to the apparent footwear rules for male residents in the dementia ward. Or maybe I’ll go ’50s vintage rock ‘n’ roll with a pair of oxblood Snap Jacks. (Google it, children.)

Sorry, the train left the tracks for a sec.

The signs of last summer’s end began appearing before summer ended in the third week of September, an annual event that always hits me hard, right in my ambivalence. While I enjoy most of the things that characterize the warmest season, it can and often does overdo it, as we saw for weeks straight this past summer. Since my return home to the islands 15 years ago, the blessing of air conditioning has never been more appreciated than this past summer. Also, this past summer was the first summer we had it.

Being indoors to escape the humidity made it tempting to turn on the idiot box for some diversionary entertainment. However, 2022 being an election year meant I had to mute the TV for five minutes every three minutes if I wished to avoid the political hissy fits that were obviously scripted by highly paid staffs of poli sci-bound third graders. I am neither gullible nor ignorant enough to believe all that palaver, yet I understand that the First Amendment allows them the freedom to freely annoy the crap out of me. Speaking of annoyances, I also thank the Lord for the miracle of caller ID and phones with a “ringer off” option.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the same type of childish hissy fit displayed in some of those TV political ads occurs in the toy departments of every Walmart in the country. Predictably, these tantrums lack an announcer admitting at the end that they are, in fact, the suspect, and, incredibly, they approve this particular misrepresentation.

Our television got a lengthy rest over a few months as we turned it on only for the evening weather tease and the in-case-you-missed-it-this-is-what-happened-today weather segment. That’s followed by a weather tease, then the in-case-you-don’t-have-windows-this-is-what’s-going-on-in-your-dooryard-right-now weather segment, another weather tease, and, finally, the weather forecast, all of which were repeated each half-hour between muted political ads leading up to the elections.

Summer hung around into November, with cold-blooded native kids still swimming in a couple of the warmer coves. Then, in an instant, summer packed up and headed south, leaving autumn, a disappointing substitute, in charge. Remember Buffalo’s 6 feet of snow the week before Thanksgiving? Yup, autumn.

Time flew by this fall, with the entire world seemingly out of kilter. As Christmas drew down upon us, we decided to scale down our gift-giving to nearly zero (grandkids excepted, of course). Hold your fire and don’t be charging me with aggravated humbuggery just yet. I am an enthusiastic participant in the celebration of Christmas and, as they say, the reason for the season. Instead of buying gifts for ourselves because that’s what we’ve always done, we put our money where it would do more good for some who truly need the help this season. In the end, we got more joy from that than from unwrapping packages of stuff we simply don’t need. We have everything we need. This Christmas felt good.

Under my socks remain the pale chevrons, a reminder of those days, not long ago, when the quiet hum of the mini-split was enough to make me happy. Now I’m ready for something else. I want time to slow to a crawl for a while. I want the peace and quiet in my home to last, and I am perfectly willing to pay for it in snowstorms. But while these Acorn socks are comfy, I do admit to looking forward to having my flip-flops back in the rotation.

Maybe I’m anticipating after all.

Butch Lawson is an observer of life. He lives on Bailey Island.