I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  Maybe it’s the fact that I live in New England, but despite Christmas and the changing of the year, the middle of winter (there’s a reason why they call it the dead of winter) just doesn’t feel like a time to make changes.

Living as I do, microwave-free, with horses in shedrows on the hill, two stoves that keep us largely off the grid (but busy tending the fires), and garages that store everything but cars, winter’s everyday obligations fill the hours and keep us fit.  It’s the worst time to cross things off my “to do” list, that personal perpetual calendar that most of us keep.

So I tend to make my annual resolutions after Labor Day.  Perhaps it’s a misnomer to refer to them as resolutions at all, since they’re less about changing me than they are about deciding what can get done before it gets too cold to do it.  I have more in common with a fat-cheeked squirrel right now than the tipsy and contemplative singing Auld Land Syne.

When I was young, my mother often told me to  “gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” quoting Robert Herrick’s poem “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time.”  Of course, at the time she was giving those orders, the very last thing I was supposed to do was gather rosebuds as Herrick suggested, so I interpreted the phrase as a more romantic version of what squirrels are supposed to do with nuts.

John William Waterhouse, oil on canvas, 1909

This year, I’m trying to be reasonable in terms of how many nuts I can fit in my cheeks — or, rather, rosebuds in my apron.  Part of that means prioritizing.  Part of that means letting go of things that I thought I’d have accomplished by now.  The most difficult part is acknowledging what I can actually accomplish before it gets too cold or too snowy or too burdensome to do more than the everyday, while hoping for an early spring.

There’s a chance that we’ll have a warm winter, like last year, and I’ll be able to get a task extension as easily as I get a tax extension.  But I’m not counting on that.

Wondering what’s on my list?  

Finish putting up the new hay barn.  Fill it.

Finish the new stalls.

Mow everything.

Restore the footing in the sacrifice paddocks.

Strip and paint my two front doors.

Lest the nuts I collect go rancid or those rosebuds rot, I also have a list for the winter, all of which I can accomplish without putting on my gloves and a hat, and which is as extensive as it is entirely unreasonable.  Just thinking about writing it down makes me laugh.

And that’s part of the reason I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

Am I the only one making fall resolutions?  If you’re doing the same thing, what’s on your list?