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By Staff | Oct 1, 2010

The calendar has officially flipped to autumn, which means it’s time to quit putting off all your summer projects and begin putting off all your fall chores.

Back in days of yore – a historical period known for its heavy use of the word “yore” – one inescapable falltask was putting up the storm windows. Kids these days are, for the most part, deprived of the pleasure of this job.

It’s one of autumn’s true joys, like that first bite of a crisp, cold apple or outrunning the class bully and thus avoiding a wedgie.

Hauling the storm windows up from the basement should have been classified as hazardous duty. We boys were usually assigned this mission due to the large population of large spiders that occupied the cellar. It wasn’t uncommon for a 9-year-old boy to emerge from the basement with a hairdo that made him look 90.

Except for it wasn’t all hair. And some of it was crawling.

After grunting approximately a metric ton’s worth of windows up the basement stairs, next came the cleaning.

Nowadays, if you told a kid to clean his windows he would probably download some antivirus software. Modern conveniences often rob modern youngsters of some of life’s greatest experiences.

After all, what’s better than the sense of accomplishment one receives from looking through a sparkling pane of glass? A pane that you personally and painstakingly cleaned?

It makes you feel like running out and Windexing some windows, doesn’t it? Hey! I’ve got an idea. You could experience exactly such a thing at my place, at no charge. Just remember to bring along a bottle of Windex, paper towels and a ladder.

Another icky and inevitable fact of country living is mice. Rascally rodents who covet your lifestyle and hope to someday take over your home.

They just want to move in for the winter, they’ll say. And, oh, can they bring a few dozen of their closest friends and relatives? And build a condo in your sock drawer? And throw a party in your pantry?

We have used glue traps to catch mice. One drawback, especially if you are clumsy like me, is occasionally trapping yourself. You’ll be walking along when suddenly you’ll notice that one sock is permanently attached to this super-sticky plastic rectangle. Which makes it difficult to put that shoe on.

Another downside is catching a mouse in the middle of the night. If you’re like my wife and are supersensitive to nighttime noises, you’ll hear it whenever a mouse becomes stuck in stickum.

She will wake me and alert me to the situation. And she’ll be right: somewhere off in the inky darkness is a critter who is furiously squeaking a stream of mousy maledictions. For some reason, it’s my job to dispose of the bothersome little bugger. This usually involves tossing it outside, which, as you’ll recall, is where the uninvited annoyance originated.

This task is much more hazardous than it may seem. Mice can harbor the hantavirus, a germ that is of little consequence to rodents but has the unfortunate side effect of being fatal for humans. Which fits in nicely with the mouse’s plans for taking over your house.

I don’t know what my wife would do if I weren’t around to dispense of glued mice. I suppose the house would eventually become littered with little plastic rectangles that have little fossilized skeletons stuck to them.

Such duties are the bailiwick of us guys. We are sent to basements to evict squatter salamanders and battle the army of cellar spiders marching up the wall. But we’re OK with this because it gives us an excuse to go around exuding an aroma that might charitably be described as “earthy”

The womenfolk in our lives, by default, are thus given dominion over all things domestic.

For instance, if it were up to us guys, there would be no such things as monograms; every towel in the bathroom could actually be used. Those fake little pillows would have never been invented and no one would own an ornamental bed covering that serves no useful purpose.

On the other hand, if it weren’t for women our houses would be much darker inside due to the extremely grungy windows. That is, if we had windows at all. It would depend upon whether or not our particular cave had happened to come with an opening that would qualify as a window.

I could go on, but my wife is searching for me with her “honey do” list in hand. No sense in putting it off; I’m going to start procrastinating right away.

But first I have to figure out what “yore” actually means.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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