The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 27, 2013

Krohn: Falling into despair


The Mankato Free Press

---- — It seems many people inadvertently let fall flash past with little enjoyment as they fret over winter coming and get diverted by ramped-up commercial hype.

The first drop in temperature sends what seems to be a growing number of people into despondency as they worry and talk about how it’s the sign that the long, cold winter is at hand. Never mind serious winter is usually a couple of months or more away.

Many race to dig out their Seasonal Affective Disorder light to begin bracing themselves for the long darkness ahead.

For others, fall remains a favored season of crisp weather, splashy color and the sweet, earthy, decaying smells of a dying garden. Or a chance to take to the woods, hunting or not, sans mosquitoes and nettles.

But it’s hard to get outside and enjoy fall when you’re drawn to stores to buy a growing assortment of plastic pumpkins, Halloween light strings and Anthony Weiner costumes, not to mention Christmas decorations, which have been on shelves for weeks now.

Perhaps fall’s angst for many is the knowledge that it ushers in a host of home and yard projects that should be getting done.

I read a story listing the things to do in the fall: clean the gutters, check the furnace, caulk, dig out quilts and wash and fluff them, stock up on candles and flashlights, etc.

I checked on our quilts, but the relics from grandmas and great-grandmas have stuffing poking out and don’t look like they’d handle a fluff, much less a wash.

I went down and looked at the furnace. Still there. Turned on the heat and thermostat and it made some ticking sounds and then blew warm air.

I’m not sure why people stock up on candles and flashlights. With today’s mostly underground electric grid — even in much of the countryside — power outages are usually measured in minutes.

You’re supposed to change the oil and sharpen the blade on the mower in the fall. But, really, it can wait until next spring.

Better to enjoy the outdoors than do chores.

But fall at least brings some comic relief for those despondent about the oncoming winter. Nearly each year at this time school officials somewhere are fretting about student conduct as homecoming events arrive.

The Annapolis High School in Maryland is this year requiring that students and parents sign a dance contract before kids can attend the homecoming dance.

School officials want to make sure there’s no Miley Cyrus routines going on. The kids at the school are having a blast with it because the contract, in describing what can’t be done on the dance floor, sounds kinda dirty in itself.

The contract states that “sexually explicit dancing will not be tolerated,” including “grinding,” “making out” and “buttocks touching a partner or in the air.” The young ones are also forbidden from “exposing excessive amounts of skin.”

The countermeasures to homecoming hijinks on the dance floor have been recycled many times over the years. The first affront to dirty dancing at schools came in the 1970s when the Bump was popular. The hip bumping dance seems so quaint today.

Teachers and parents had a host of worries in the ‘80s when movies like “Dirty Dancing” spawned grinding and freak dancing. Miley’s just the latest to resurrect it.

So, rather than despair, throw on a coat and go outside before winter really does hit. Besides, you can still do all the freaking and grinding you want in your own backyard.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6383.