Early November. Susie was in the garage doing laundry. I walked out intending to do some woodworking.
She looked at me and said, “It’s time.”
Just those words. And, she gave me the look. I knew what it meant.
After 50-plus years of marriage, explanations weren’t necessary.
It was getting cold outside, and it was time to clean the garage so she could get her car inside for the coming winter.
During the spring, summer and fall, I’m allowed to make a mess of the garage while her car sits outside in the driveway at night.
I had a six-foot table and a four-foot table set up holding tools, boxes of wood for my assorted crafts, metal detectors, weed trimmers, leaf blowers, and anything else that would fit on or under both tables.
Now, it was time to stuff all of those things where they belonged and make room for her car.
I still was allowed almost half of the garage for two deep freezers, a large tool cabinet, a workbench, several assorted sets of shelves and my Shopsmith.
The other side had the water heater, furnace, washer, water softener, water pump, and two large floor to ceiling wooden shelves for canned goods and other assorted pantry type items.
On the third wall, more homemade shelves held jars of canned green beans, beets, maple syrup, jams and jellies, and other items from our garden.
The clothes dryer is also on that wall.
If everything is in its correct spot, it leaves enough room to put Susie’s car in with just enough room on each side to allow us to open the doors and exit the vehicle. It’s doable, but not easy.
Anything that was in the garage last winter has a spot.
Anything newly added this year causes a problem.
Something old has to go to make room for the new.
Susie’s idea — something goes in the trash.
My idea — nothing gets tossed. It either goes into our motorhome until late spring, or it is added to the junk, I mean all the great stuff, stashed in the shed.
The first step was to make room on the shelves for the 32 quarts of green beans we canned this summer.
When I started, they were sitting on the floor in front of the shelves. A great place to get broken.
Several stacks of large wood pieces for my crafts got carried to the shed.
It has a small attic, which is starting to bow from the weight there. A project for next summer.
This made room for the canning jars.
My large air compressor now gets wheeled into the space where the beans had been sitting.
Everything on the six-foot table is placed on the floor, the table legs collapsed, and the table is stood up on end next to the compressor.
The four-foot table is taken down and put into the encolosed bed of my truck where it will remain for the winter.
The garden equipment, which was on the tables, got carried to the shed and stored there until spring.
All of the hand tools got replaced in the drawers of the tool chest where they belonged.
The large pieces of wood were relegated to the shed. Smaller pieces were cut to fit into boxes by size for wooden pens, bird houses and feeders, and other craft projects.
These boxes all are sturdy and have lids, allowing me to stack them four or five high in a small area.
Two large bags of whole ear corn to feed the squirrels this winter were dumped into a new trash can I just purchased. With the lid on, I could store these outside along the garage for feeding the critters when needed.
I had four bags of water softener salt on the garage floor. I put them in the trunk of her car for weight on the snow and ice.
After a couple weeks of working a bit at a time, I finally have the garage meeting Susie’s approval.
I can still work on my wood crafts all winter. I just have to put her car outside while I’m making sawdust and pull it back inside when I’m done.
Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer whose work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications for 40 years. Born in Anderson, he is a graduate of Markleville High School. He lives in South Madison County with his wife, Susie. He may be contacted at [email protected].