October has felt strange and unfamiliar to me this year.
I’ve written about her for more than a decade, her traditions, her quirks, her unique personality. But this year, she was quiet. She didn’t whisper to me as she has in the past. She didn’t give me the words I have shared with you over the years.
Part of it, I’m sure, is that October and I embraced so fully, so completely last year. Pumpkin patch trips and a day in wine country and, on the very last night of October, a few hours spent communing with restless spirits in an historic cemetery, October was a gracious hostess last year.
I had a few moments this year when I felt her spirit, but for the most part, she remained elusive. I kept waiting for her call, for her to arrive on my doorstep, but she never did.
I’ve seen hide nor hair of a scary movie. Where are the Draculas, the Frankensteins, even the Freddys and Jasons? Where are the ghosts and goblins and the things that go bump in the night?
Bats and black cats and orange plastic pumpkins with handles that cut into our hands when they are filled too full of candy begged from neighbors. Haunted houses filled with dry ice smoke, strobe-light illuminated zombies and gallons of oozy, sticky fake blood.
Where were they?
Apples baked with walnuts and brown sugar, those horrible peanut butter taffies wrapped in black and orange waxed paper, T. Marzetti’s caramel dip with crisp green Granny Smith apples. The scent of hot apple cider, of wet fallen leaves turning to mulch, of the pumpkin spice latte from that coffee place from the north whose name we dare not speak.
I feel like I missed most of this. I’ve often said that October is a state of mind, an emotion too big to be contained in 31 days in the fall. I’m hoping that’s true. I’m hoping that, as has happened in the past, there will be a day in January or in March or in the dead of summer when something will strike me as being incredibly October.
Until that time, I’m operating on the assumption that the few October Thoughts I put forward this year, lackluster though they were, may be the last ones.
My writing has turned elsewhere, my heart was dizzy from trying to keep up with my two major blog subjects at the same time while also trying to prepare to write – seriously write – a novel in November. As a result, all three suffered. And, as it turns out, October, with the tens or thousands of words I’ve written about her, was the easiest to leave behind. I have no doubt she’ll forgive me. She did quite fine without me before.
Thanks to all who’ve come along for the ride, and especially to those who were there at the very beginning, in that big blue van with the red Fender fender somewhere in Wisconsin, when October was all apples and fallen leaves and a gigantic bag of Chex Mix.