Priority for the season: Enjoy a chore-free day

Posted Oct. 24, 2008, at 8:15 p.m.

It’s a reasonably mild autumn day. The sun is shining and you can go outdoors in a light sweater. Leaf season will soon pass its peak. When that happens at this time of the year in Maine, it’s a challenge to every to-do list. How can anyone resist tossing aside indoor chores in favor of grasping the last comfortable outdoors hours of the season? Some of us seize the day to substitute outdoor work for indoor housekeeping. That’s called prioritizing. But when you choose to blow off leaf-blowing to go leaf-peeping instead, is this a case of procrastination?

“The American Heritage Dictionary” defines “procrastinate” as “to put off doing something until a future time” or “to postpone and delay needlessly.” Anyone would agree that the person who shuns planned chores in favor of fun fits the first definition.

Ah, but it’s in the second definition’s word “needlessly” that the leaf-peeper can make a case for herself as one who prioritizes rather than procrastinates. After all, it’s nicer, as you kick through a colorful, crispy pile of leaves, to feel you fit the definition of one who knows how to “arrange or deal with in order of importance” than to see oneself as a sloth.

And in Maine, one can make the case that it’s necessary to enjoy mild weather while it lasts. If you want to use more vocabulary to make a case for this, consider another “p” word: precognition. This means “knowledge of something in advance of its occurrence.” If you’ve lived in Maine for at least one run around the calendar, you’ve got this. You know in advance that cold weather will arrive all too soon. It’s time to pluck a purloined afternoon.

That’s because no amount of wishing will cause a favorite season to protract — or extend — its stay. It doesn’t take a prestidigitator — or conjuror — to predict the proximity of winter. As the British would say, give yourself the prezzie — or gift — of a chore-free day.

What about all of those unaccomplished chores? Send them to Perdition. One can always wax penitent when it rains and the leaves are sitting sodden on your neglected lawn.

Lest you begin to think this columnist fits the “p” word “pedantic” — defined as “characterized by a narrow, ostentatious concern for book-learning,” let me say, a lovely autumn day ought to be the occasion for something pure and simple: play. So gather ye leisure while ye may.

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