When I went out to feed the ducks soon after sunrise, the thermometer read 27ºF, the coldest temperature here on the riverbank since late last spring. I could see crystals of frost sparkling in the grass.
Normally, when it comes to matters of proper attire needed while performing such brief chores, my theory is that inclement weather can't hit a moving target until it's had time to adjust its sights. I figure that if you concentrate on the task at hand, and hustle like the dickens, it doesn't matter what you wear. Or don't wear. A rain jacket or warm coat in winter. Or in mid-summer's heat, whatever drapes necessary to offset personal embarrassment or lead to being charged with a misdemeanor
I must admit this strategy worked better when I was in my twenties. Either I was tougher back then, or else the old synapses have taken it upon themselves to begin firing protest messages to what's left of my mind at the first hint of pain and suffering. No longer do I dash barefooted and shirtless from tent to firewood pile in a mid-winter camp, bounding across knee-deep snow like a moose—then halting long enough on the return to stir the coals, add the wood, and possibly dig around in the nearby grub box for a handful of breakfast Oreos.
Nowadays, incipient wussiness—some might say common sense—regularly prompts a pause to consider probable clothing needs. Seeing that frost on the ground, I decided thin cotton sleep shorts and sneakers might not be sufficient for survival—so I donned an old tee-shirt before going out to scatter the day's measure of cracked corn for my breakfasting waterfowl.
In hindsight, this addition was barely sufficient (yes, there's probably a pun in there) but my hind…uh…quarters would have been a whole sight colder without that upper layer. As it was, I managed to fling the ducks their food, and scream at Moon the dog to get her butt right back in the house pronto! Then, seeing as how I was still dressed for fleeting outdoor forays—and knowing Moon's likelihood of paying attention to my injunction for speed in her morning peregrinations—I grabbed my camera and made a few shots of frost on the sycamore leaves and sunshine lighting up the sycamores upstream from the cottage.
In case you're wondering, I don't know the identity of that yellow bush which so far refuses to give up its leaves. But I can tell you this…as the year continues to follow its ancient path towards winter, not only will that yellow bush drop its leaves, but I'll have to find the box in the attic that contains my sweatpants!