Green on red

In most ways, the shift from one season to another is a subtle, almost imperceptible thing: gradually, winter thaws into spring and spring flowers into summer. But some seasonal signposts are sudden and surprisingly consistent from year to year.

Mottled

On or around May 1st, for instance, the black flies hatch in New Hampshire, responding to an inner calendar that is as meticulous as the one on my wall. And on or around October 1st every year, I need to start wearing gloves.

I don’t usually forget the black flies’ birthday in the spring, but I always seem to forget the arrival of Glove Season in the fall. This morning when I took Reggie out for our usual pre-dawn Thursday morning walk, I realized half a block too late that I’d forgotten an essential part of my welcome-to-October wardrobe. My legs felt adequately warm in a long skirt, and my arms were sufficiently warm in a lightweight fleece, but less than a block into this morning’s dog-walk, the skin on my hands began to sting from the chill, and the bones in my fingers began to ache.

Suspended

I’ve learned from experience to keep an extra pair of gloves in my purse for such mornings. Every year, I’m slow to relinquish my summer wardrobe for more sensible winter-wear, for I know once I start wearing shoes, socks, slacks, and sweaters, it will be many months before the happy return of sandal season. But even on days like yesterday when I wore a winter-weight sweatshirt over my summer short-sleeves and capris, even the thinnest pair of gloves can provide an extra edge against the autumnal chill. On in-between days when a coat seems too heavy but going bare feels too chilly, a lightweight pair of gloves can bridge the seasonal gap.

So after returning from this morning’s brisk (and finger-numbing) dog-walk, I stashed two emergency gloves in my purse, a just-in-case pair that will come in handy, I’m sure, on future strolls. If past years are any indication, I’ll keep this extra pair in my purse until the black flies’ hatch on or around May 1st, the official end of glove season.

Gloves

If you happened to misplace a pair of fuzzy-cuffed black gloves while in Newton sometime this weekend, as of this morning they were waiting for you at the Village Bank ATM in Waban Square.

Tree shadow on street

I can easily imagine misplacing my gloves while fumbling with cash, keys, and wallet at an outdoor ATM on a frigid weekend…but I can’t imagine going far without them. In only a matter of minutes, I think, my fingers would loudly let me know that I’d left something important behind. But then again, maybe the unfortunate owner of these lost gloves owns several pair. Maybe by the time she got back to her car, she grabbed the second pair she keeps there, or the third pair she keeps in her coat, or a fourth pair she keeps in her purse. Or maybe in the glove-rich town of Newton, she’s found that matched pairs grow on trees.

I’m serious about my multiple-pair theory because I do own about a half-dozen (at least) pairs of gloves, and I do parse them out so I’m almost never without a pair close at hand (pun intended). Over the years, I’ve learned to stock up on new gloves in the spring, when stores sell them at deep discount, then I stick them in the pockets of every coat I own. I stick the rest in a ragtag bag of winter wear I keep stashed in the closet over the summer, then right about now I transfer that bag to my car in case I ever find myself stranded and in need of an extra hat, scarf, or mismatched pair of mittens. You never know. When it comes to gloves and other cold-weather wear, I definitely subscribe to my mother’s philosophy that it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.