I Love October
The month is amber
gold and brown
blue ghosts of smoke
float through the town.
Great Vs of geese
honk over head
and maples turn
a fiery red.
Frost bites the lawn
the stars are slits
in a black cat’s eye
before she spits.
At last small witches, goblins, hags
and pirates armed with paper bags,
their costumes hinged on safety pins.
go haunt a night of pumpkin grins.
- John Updike
Every three or four weeks while teaching third grade, I posted a poem pertaining to the season or some unit we were studying for my students to memorize. The above poem was one of their and my favorites.
In spite of the fact that my eighteen-year-old son and my six-year-old granddaughter both died in October, I still love October in N.E. Ohio. It makes me think of the Dylan Thomas poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Yes, Dylan wrote it during the final illness of his father, but I see October as making a last brave stand against the closing of the year by going out in a blaze of glory. At least that’s true here in the north.
Everywhere I look this time of the year the colors are rich and vibrant. At the beginning of the month the fields were filled with goldenrod and purple asters. Soon the leaves started to turn to orange, red, amber, gold, purple and burnt umber. Orange pumpkins like round globes appeared at roadside stands, farmers’ markets, and in stores. Corn stalks are gathered for decorations. Even the sky seems a more vivid blue.
|Maggie likes the cooler days, too.|
I love the crisp autumn days with cold nights and cool mornings often warming up later in the day. And then there’s Indian summer giving me that last bit of time when I can try to finish up all those chores that should have been done by now, but I didn’t quite get around to. Now I can’t procrastinate any longer. My time is running out. Not only do I need to finish planting the rest of my exuberant purchases at my favorite garden centers from last spring, but there are large clumps of daylilies that should be divided and replanted, and daffodil bulbs I dug up last spring when they were done blooming because I needed room for something else. Of course, before that can be done, I need to prepare a place for those plants to go. All the cannas and dahlias need to be dug up, stalks and leaves removed, and the roots and rhizomes cleaned, dried and packed in dried leaves or wood chips and taken to the basement for the winter. The vegetable garden needs to be stripped of dying vegetation and bedded down for the winter.
|My great-granddaughter playing in the leaves.|
Fortunately I like to rake leaves even though it does get tiring when you have as many as I do. The armfuls of leaves I fill my wheelbarrow with are fluffy light reminding me of those long ago days of jumping in piles of them. What fun that was. Now I’m too old. It would take a very big pile to cushion my fall. I consider raking leaves my workout since I don’t go to a gym, nor do I have any exercise equipment in my home. When the leaves have dried enough, I’ll mow through them to chop them up, and then use them to mulch my gardens. I also have a lot of pine needles in some areas. Those I save to mulch my blueberry patch or woodland gardens.
|Maggie is waiting for me at one of her treat stops.|
One of my favorite activities in the fall is my morning walk through the woods with Maggie. I enjoy the rustling sound of leaves as I walk through them, and the smell that’s unique to fallen leaves, a mixture of a pungent earthy scent with a touch of sweetness, too. A question that I always have in the fall is how did Native Americans move silently through the woods when hunting? I can even hear my soft pawed dog moving. When I was still teaching, I gathered leaves on that walk and dried them between the pages of books to prepare them for art projects for my students. I’m still tempted to do that because the forest floor is a mosaic of jewel like leaves that all too soon will lose their colors and turn brown.
October also brings Halloween. It’s a fun holiday where kids and adults can dress up, play games and get treats, too. It’s a time of ghosts, skeletons, ghouls and other things that go bump in the night, but also princesses, football players, scarecrows and less fearsome trick or treaters. I enjoy seeing the Halloween decorations many people decorate their homes or yards with. Some people believe Halloween promotes witchcraft and evil. I don’t think that’s any truer than mystery writers, readers or movie viewers are more prone to murder. Halloween dispels fear of the boogey man. Once a child dons a costume and sees other children doing the same, no matter how gruesome the costume, the child begins to put many fears aside. Back before Halloween parties and parades were discontinued in schools, my students, fellow teachers and I had so much fun on that day and in the preparations that led up to it. I think Halloween is a fitting end for October.
What do you like about the month of October?
How do you feel about Halloween?