The change of seasons is one of the most treasure ingredients of living where we do. Right now we are just getting into the seasons that is equal parts fabulous and annoying. 

The fabulous part is made up of crisp fall air, as clear as a freshly washed storm window. We’re hauling out the dark-hued sweaters and corduroys, the rag-wool mittens, and the bright scarves. The flannel sheets are on the freshly plumped comforters. The wood smoke is curling against an azure sky.

The annoying part is the catalogues.

Before August is half way gone, the catalogues start clogging up the mail box with suggestions for Christmas gifts. As I lug armloads of, often duplicate, advertising into the house I plan to just throw the stuff in the trash where it belongs without even looking inside. But I’m weak. I find myself stuck halfway up the driveway checking out some bargains in cashmere because the catalogue fell open to that page. “Now, that’s pretty!” I think and plan to look it but throw away everything else.

Remember when there was one catalogue! It was big and hefty and had everything. You could build a house from that catalogue. There were toys, tools, furniture, and appliances. 

I grew up in the Northeast Kingdom where the French Canadian families often numbered well into the double digits. It was not uncommon for a family of 15 children to buy all the school clothes, all the church clothes, all the work clothes and all the footwear from that one catalogue.

The catalogues that come to our house these day feature pages and pages of skinny people who would look pretty good in just about anything. Many is the time I’ve ordered something that is portrayed in a size 2, thinking it will transfer the chic of the body as well as the outfit. Doesn’t happen.

Then there are gag gifts. T-shirts that get a laugh out of bodily functions make me gag. My mother used to call it bathroom humor. Not funny.

This year there seems to be a large number of food items. You can send away for nine cupcakes that cost a mere $60.

Most toy catalogues don’t offer chemistry sets any more. They do, however, stock toys made of real wood which are available for exorbitant amounts of money…because they’re made of real wood.

There’s a catalogue (with a teal blue cover) that has for sale incredibly expensive jewelry. I can’t quite imagine ordering up a six-karat number with matching earrings to be dropped off by UPS at my front door.

The problem with buying from a catalogue is much like feeding a stray cat. If you’re nice to the cat, it will never leave. If you order from the catalogue, they’ll keep sending you more. 

A certain logic tells me that because I live in the country, catalogue shopping is a worthwhile exercise. I can sit down with piles of glossy displays and pick out what I want at leisure, then punch in a mess of numbers into my computer, and voila! My stuff is on its way.

But my sentimental bones still want to see the colors, touch the fabric and rub the wood.