October -- the month of too much, leaving too soon. “The month of carnival of all the year, When Nature lets the wild earth go its way, And spend whole seasons on a single day. The spring-time holds her white and purple dear; October, lavish, flaunts them far and near.” My birthday is in October so I’ve always had some proprietary interest in it. I thought Lowell a fool for writing “What is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.” I approved, instead, of Helen Hunt Jackson for saying “O suns and skies and clouds of June, And flowers of June together, Ye cannot rival for one hour October's bright blue weather.” It‘s true that “bright blue weather” might not be a description worthy of great poetry, but it was accurate, so I turned up my nose at British summer days, championing my beloved Colorado’s autumn instead. (And I’m still willing to put the blue of a fall Colorado sky up against any other in the world. There is nothing like it. Trust me, I know.)
October is hard to define. Writer’s often infuse it with a sense of melancholy, for the year is dying soon, and so are we, they enjoy reminding us. William Cullen Bryant's October, says it is “When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf, And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief And the year smiles as it draws near its death.” Frost, in another poem of the same name, begins “O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all.” But there’s much more of life left in this month than that. October is the home of Halloween after all, the don’t be a fraidy-cat, “trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat,” candy stuffed old holiday, "and the goblins will get ya if ya don't watch out!" It’s the month of high school football games, popcorn and candied apples, cider and sweaters. It used to be the season for TV programs, too. Every show started in September and by October you knew which ones your family was watching, and what nights you had to hurry through chores and piano lessons to catch your favorites. (These days I can’t even find a good show until one week before the finale, which for some reason is in July or August.) Halloween and television may never be the same, but still these October nights I hear my neighborhood kids playing outside in the dark, till someone calls them in for dinner. I smell wood smoke most evenings, and some mornings, too, if I happen to be near an open window. It might not be cool enough for me to wear sweaters yet, but I can leave the windows open day and night now, which is a blessing not everyone understands, and I get keep an extra blanket on my bed, just in case. After all...
"They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfereWhen the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here--
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossom on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the sir's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
It's the pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock."
Read Well, Friend
(A Calendar of Sonnets: October written by Helen Hunt Jackson; What is so Rare as a Day in June, James Russell Lowell; October's Bright, Blue Weather, H. H. Jackson; Little Orphan Annie and When the Frost..., poems by James Whitcomb Riley.)