MARTHA SEZ: ‘You have to admire people who don’t procrastinate’

Labor Day is over. Leaf season, which is barely beginning, is something we all think about — what factors are responsible for the really knock-out yellows, reds and oranges we see some autumns as opposed to the drab hues we get in other years? We worry about the quality of the color, and we discuss it a lot, but there is nothing we can do about it.

Saranac Lake and Lake Placid are always ahead of us here in Keene and Keene Valley when it comes to fall foliage, which is nice because it gives us more time to drive around looking at the trees. We may refer to tourists as leaf peepers, but we leaf peep too, don’t let anyone fool you.

Driving around looking at trees is an activity not restricted to autumn. It is a pleasant way to pass the time in spring, when the branches are first leafing out, and also in winter when we like to view the Christmas lights and decorations.

Did someone say Christmas?

Surely we don’t need to think about Christmas yet. It’s late September, not even Columbus Day. We haven’t even started raking.

Life is made up of cycles, so that just when one anxiety-inducing aspect, like overgrown zucchini, is passing away over the horizon and we are happily waving it good-bye and shouting “See you next year!” another one is looming up behind us.

Like Christmas.

I am a procrastinator, but this is not true of my friends, some of whom have already finished their Christmas shopping. I know this because they are always bringing it up, almost as if they’re bragging. I don’t think that is really the Christmas spirit, because how do they think the rest of us feel? Don’t they realize we still have boxes of craft projects — they’re around here somewhere — that we must locate and lug around and dust off and pick up on where we left off last year?

One of my boxes contains pipe cleaners and artificial flowers and sequins and little round wooden balls for heads and real acorn caps to glue onto them and a lot of other stuff that I use for making tiny fairy dolls for Christmas tree decorations. My task is to assemble them and paint them in such a way that gift recipients will exclaim “Oh, how adorable! Did you make this yourself?” without feeling, deep inside, that a new store-bought sweater or earrings would have been preferable, perhaps even more meaningful.

For more years than I care to count, I have had a painted floor cloth that I plan to give my sister for Christmas. To be precise, it is a painted floor cloth in my imagination only; that is, I hope that at some future date it will have attained this state, but at this moment it is merely a large piece of canvas waiting to be hemmed. I always seem to get stuck at this point.

I would prefer to get started on painting it, but oh no, the instructions in a magazine I once bought — I saw it just the other day, and am pretty sure I could put my hand on it in a matter of minutes — clearly state that the edges must be dealt with first, after which a pattern must be carefully worked out on graph paper to fit the measurements of the hemmed canvas. All of this gives me pause.

In fact, come to think of it, I would save myself time and aggravation by deciding right now to put off the floor cloth project for another year, or possibly two.

Worrying about Christmas now is good because the holiday season is still pretty far away, and therefore less daunting than more immediate tasks. There are far too many of these immediate tasks anyway; how to prioritize? To embark on one task is to neglect another, possibly more important, one.

Do you even know what you’re doing for Thanksgiving? There is still plenty of time to buy Halloween candy, I wouldn’t worry about it.

You have to admire people who don’t procrastinate. And in a way you have to feel sorry for them, too, because they will never know the guilty pleasure of curling up with a good novel or skimming a trivial newspaper column while turning a blind eye to the dishes in the sink and a deaf ear to the clock on the wall ticking away the minutes until Christmas.

Have a good week.


(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the Lake Placid News for more than 20 years.)

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