Painting to beat the weather

Here we are with the weather beginning to turn, the leaves drifting in colorful swirls and the election right around the corner—and my husband and I are still not done with our endless porch renewal project. We figure on finishing up this week, and there’s an urgency to the deadline. Snow has already fallen in areas just north of us. We are running out of time.

The endeavor began in early summer when I decided to paint all the porches, starting with the side landing off the TV room. It was a pretty easy job, except for the bottom post at the foot of the stairs, which needs replacing. That’s one of the checklist items we must finish this week.

Then came the front porch. It’s huge, and ringed by railings and their supporting infrastructure of posts, each of which must be painted individually. Leading up to the porch are nine super-wide wooden steps, with their own railings and posts on either side.

I alternated colors (white for the posts and woodwork, a gray-beige color for the railings and floors), so it was fussy work, especially when you count the prep—sanding, filling and priming, all tasks that I hate. Most surfaces needed two coats. And then, the weather factored in. I couldn’t paint when the sun was beating down or when it rained. The job seemed to take forever.

While I was wielding my brush and roller out front, my husband was in the back, rebuilding the (thankfully smaller) porch at the rear of the house after discovering rot in the original decking and supporting columns. He’s put it back together now and I did most of the painting out there last week: ceiling, trim work, back door and door to the attached storage room. Next up: the floor.

We’ve been lucky that the weather has held for so long. But the illusion of endless summer through September and most of October gave us a false sense of endless time. Over the past weekend that changed. Now fall is decidedly here—and so is our deadline.

As beautiful as the season is, autumn carries with it a hint of dread. Maybe that’s the point of Halloween? The ghosts and goblins underscore what we already know: that everything is dying and the big chill will soon set in. The bright colors, pumpkins and mums are but a temporary distraction.

As the days get shorter, those of us who are susceptible may slide into seasonal affective disorder—or SAD. Years ago, my wonderful brother built me a light box containing full-spectrum bulbs. It has helped me through many a dark season, and one year I loaned it to a friend who was feeling SADder than I was.

Once the time changes and the nights lengthen, I’ll haul the light box down from storage and plug it in. But first let me finish my final touchups and wash my paint brushes one last time, knowing we won’t be sitting out on our freshly painted porches until spring.

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  • Blog Author

    Jacqueline Damian

    Jacqueline Damian is a writer and editor living in Milford, PA. The author of "Sasha’s Tail: Lessons from a Life with Cats" (W.W. Norton), she has worked in newspapers, magazines, book publishing and technology journalism. Read Full
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