I love everything that autumn brings, brilliant leaf colors, hot chocolate, bonfires, toasted marshmallows, hot or cold apple cider and the doughnuts to go with it. However, there’s a “but.”
Winter isn’t far behind.
Mother Nature is probably amused that autumn keeps humans on their toes. We don’t know how to dress in the fall because we don’t know how she is going to fool with the temperature on any given day, at any given hour. She dares us to wear sandals or flip-flops, short sleeves and a light jacket, just so she can drop the temperature 30 degrees between lunchtime and going home from work.
Autumn also brings out the rebel in some people. I know people who won’t turn on their furnace before they absolutely have to do it. It’s a source of pride with them that it’s 45 degrees in their house when they get up in the morning.
I have no love for frigid mornings because I had plenty of those in my childhood. I grew up in my parents’ farmhouse and shared a bedroom with my two sisters in the unheated second story. The only warmth up there was the heat wafting up through the 10-by-12-inch vent from the first floor to the second.
We slept together under a mountain of quilts and blankets. We grabbed our clothes and raced downstairs, taking turns to dress on the warm furnace registers. Sometimes there was frost on the inside of our bedroom window.
The folks remodeled the house when I was in the seventh grade, adding a lot of insulation, swapping out the old coal furnace for a fuel oil furnace and running duct work to the second story.
It was heaven — we couldn’t believe how nice it was to sleep and dress in toasty warmth, without seeing our breath.
In my own mind, though, I was like a defiant Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind.” I vowed I’d never be cold again.
So, I usually turn my heat on in late September when it’s DeKalb County Fair week. Sometimes it’s earlier — it depends a lot on whether autumn days have been generally warm. I draw the line at when it’s too cold to get out of the shower or bathtub without shivering uncontrollably.
My logic is that there’s no need to suffer when the thermostat is right there.
Some of my newsroom colleagues are among the diehard holdouts for turning on the heat. They all brag about how hardy they are for living in places with cave-like temperatures. One says she turns on the heat only when she gets a cold. Another only turns up the heat when relatives visit. They all cite cheapness as the reason.
I get that. I do admire what I prefer to call frugality, but it’s only kicking the can down the road. This is Indiana, so the need for heat is inevitable. You can’t pile on enough sweaters or sweatshirts, wear thermal underwear or cook dinner in your mittens forever. Sooner or later, you have to turn on the heat.
I just prefer sooner.