I recently had to fire up the furnace for the first time this season. As painful as it was to switch the thermostat from the off position to heat, Mother Nature forced my hand with a hard freeze about two weeks early. In my mind there’s nothing better than waking up in a chilly house. On the flip side, there’s nothing worse than being awoken by a freezing house.

The acorns falling on my roof for the past few weeks were one of the first signals this day was coming. Despite the drought, the oak tree north of my house has had a productive year. We’ve endured what can best be described as an intermittent hailstorm since late August. The seeds land with a thud before rolling into the gutter. Some of the larger acorns get a significant enough bounce off the hipped roof to make it to the patio, which adds an extra bit of excitement to each step once the little ovals are covered by leaves.

The leaves and acorns will require some extra work over the coming weeks to remove. Like switching on the heat, raking leaves, disconnecting hoses and cleaning gutters are just some of the season’s many routines.

In a couple of weeks my wife and I will participate in what’s become another fall tradition, voting early. Like any good idiosyncratic custom, this habit developed accidentally rather than on purpose. We’ll go out to breakfast on the Saturday before Election Day. On our way home we’ll stop by the county annex building to cast our ballots.

I don’t remember exactly how this particular routine got started, but it ranks high on the list for why fall is my favorite season. Even if I’m not fully satisfied with the slate of candidates, I get to talk over the choices with my wife at our favorite breakfast place.

Of course, voting early does involve a little risk. There’s always the chance of late-breaking news happening in the hours between Saturday morning and Tuesday evening that would change my vote in a particular race.

I think the odds of that happening are up there with delaying my vote, getting busy on the second Tuesday of November and not voting, only to see a race end in a tie all because I didn’t cast my ballot. Both are plausible if highly unlikely scenarios.

After voting, we’ll likely spend the rest of the day working outside, picking up acorns that have bounced off the roof and raking leaves into giant piles. At least one of us will probably try to watch a little football and possibly sneak in an afternoon nap.

In some ways, elections are the easiest way we control our own governance. The hard work comes later, when you have to ensure winning candidates stick to their campaign promises if you voted for them. Tougher still is convincing someone you didn’t vote for to reconsider their position.

That work will come in a different season. Whether you’re starting a tradition or sticking to an old routine, fall is voting season. I encourage you to make the most of it and cast your ballot anytime between now and Nov. 8.