It was a good weekend to take the porch and deck furniture back into the barn for the winter. It reminded me of what a friend said about the price we pay for living in this temperate climate, which is the time it takes to get the stuff out and cleaned up in the spring and then cleaned up and taken back into storage in the fall. Oh, and the space it takes to store it all also comes at a price.

At our place, we also had to sweep up the bugs, and there were plenty of them. In their death throes they clung to the outside walls as long as they could and then fell to the sidewalk or the porch.

I don't recall ever seeing so many box elder bugs. And just as I thought I had seen the most of them, I discovered that those outside the house didn't come close to the numbers that were inside the little red barn. There they were hanging on the windows, and they fell to the sills until that space overflowed and they started falling to the floor.

They were repulsive, looking like a throbbing, wriggling mass of maggots, just a different color. There was no way to sweep them up there; I had to get out the big heavy-duty Shop Vac. And it was such a perfect day that I guess the bugs appreciated it too because they seemed to just keep on multiplying.

Another task for the day was to clean out the garage. Every spring, I vow that the garage won't again become a catch-all. And every summer it does, including this one. The bikes come down from their racks on the ceiling and stay in the way all summer. The golf clubs and various pieces of lawn care and gardening equipment join them. Projects meant to be finished this summer - some of which actually got started - had to be put away again to await a turn another time.

My frustration grew because every time I swept the leaves off of the garage floor, the wind blew them and even more back in.

But it was the bugs that really bugged me. Wreathing in dying heaps below the windows, they almost made me sick to my stomach. They got under my clothes, up my pants legs and rode into the house with me. I even found some in my bed.

It reminded me of living in Florida. There, they were not a problem just once a year, like it seems to be here. The bugs there were around all of the time. And it wasn't just primarily one kind of bug, such as here where sometimes it is Asian beetles and sometimes box elder bugs.

At least the Asian beetles, which look like ladybugs, are somewhat attractive. The box elder bugs look a little bit like cockroaches!

When I lived in Florida, I really liked to dry the laundry outdoors on the clothesline. The problem there was that if I put the laundry basket on the ground while I hung up the clothes or took them down, I would have to bang it on the steps before I could take it into the house: I had to get the bugs out of it. And I had a wicker one, which meant more places for the bugs to hide.

One of my coworker friends was also a damnYankee (all one word down there!) like me; she hailed from Philadelphia. When she went up north to visit her family, on arrival her mother always made her unpack her suitcase outside before she brought it into the house. Evidently, she had learned the hard way that the bugs like to travel, and would happily do so in luggage.

Sometimes we would go to a meeting with a group that met at night in a school building. The room in which we met was typically dark when we got there. As soon as we turned on the lights, the bugs would scurry. And the bugs were of every size and shape imaginable: some as big as a small mouse, and they made our biggest Minnesota mosquitoes seem like tiny little gnats. We quickly learned to reach into the room and turn on the lights and then wait in the hallway until the scurrying stopped. That signaled that the bugs had found their hiding places.

One time we had an important guest at our home and we needed to take a look at the next month on the calendar, which was hanging on the wall. I took it down in order to turn the month page, and so we could look at it up close. To my chagrin, there was a cockroach clinging to the wall behind it. I was pretty upset, because I couldn't stand the idea of bugs in the house. But if our guest noticed, he was way too polite to shriek or to say anything; since he had lived there much longer than we had, I guess he was more accustomed to the reality of bugs.

Maybe those experiences of many years ago have shaped my opinion about bugs. I still consider them loathsome and am welcoming the colder weather that should get them out of my life again until next fall.

The positives of the day do outweigh the pesky things. I got the clean-up accomplished and that is a good sense of achievement. Also, it was one of those October days where the combination of the bright sunshine and incredibly blue sky - the kind that seems only found in Minnesota - was simply wonderful, worth even the bugs.