Yesterday, October 1, my husband called me on his lunch break to tell me Happy October. He sooooo gets me. Because October 1, in my mind, ranks right up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas as days to anticipate and celebrate.
I know lots of us love fall. And I do, truly. That’s 90 percent of why I left Arizona. As much as I loved the warm winters and the gorgeous springs, I could. Not. Cope with the lack of autumn color and cool.
But even in the desert—even in that wilderness devoid of seasons—October had its gifts. The mornings, for instance. After four months of relentless triple-digit heat, October would finally yield morning temps worthy of a jean jacket or sweatshirt. Bliss. Add in a Mexican mocha at my favorite coffee place and I could *almost* pretend it was fall. Alas, by 10 a.m., the thermostat would remind me where I was.
Which is to say, it is not just the weather and seasonal color I love; it is October itself. The turning of the calendar page, the sound of the word itself, the wide open “O” like the face of a friend I’ve been missing for ages. I can’t explain it. But we’re tight, me and October. When it finally rolls around, something settles in my soul. I breathe easier. I walk more slowly. I am somehow more productive and less stressed, all at the same time. I feel as though all is right with the world; even when it is clearly not, I trust that it will all come around right somehow.
I could speculate on why this is. Halloween, for instance. I mean, what’s not to love? Costumes, candy and a good Stephen King? Sign me up. Furthermore, I was born in October. Don’t we all feel a little more centered and all-around-OK when our sign is on the cusp? Furthermore, both of my babies were born in October. One of those birthdays is also my wedding anniversary. All things considered, my calendar is full of celebrations and family things and goodness for the foreseeable future. It’s a time I associate with birth and life in general. It signals that I’ve successfully made another trip around the sun, and lived to tell about it.
But I know people born in January who hate winter. People born in March who think it’s a miserable, soggy gray tundra. People born in July who hate the heat. So my birthday lone does not explain my deep affection for these 31 days.
More than anything, I think this month marks a turning. Not just of the calendar page, but of the earth itself. It’s a turning over of the dying things to make room for new ones. It’s a reminder that all things die and fall away, but life goes on. In that death, there is some permission to let go and live. To give up whatever semblance of control we have and submit to the larger forces of nature that are moving us, always, towards a kind of death; and the kind of resurrection that comes with being unafraid of that dying.
For my money, Easter belongs in the fall. All the miracles happen here.
Maybe that’s why I can breathe better now—even though the dying things are MURDER on my sinuses, even though the demands on my time don’t let up for a minute, and even with the added demands of planning birthday festivities for nearly an entire household. I walk slower and breathe easier, because in a falling leaf, there is freedom. It goes out in a blazing wonder of Pentecost red and gold, a reminder that even the dying part of life is beautiful.
Don’t get me wrong, I also love the less-profound trappings of fall. The scents and accessories, and basically everything that Pinterest puts in your path when the weather turns. The boots and the sweaters and the leather jackets—I’m all in. The warm scented candles that give you permission to start thinking about Thanksgiving. The casserole/crock-pot/soup weather? I might actually cook dinner tonight. You can miss me with the pumpkin spice lattes, but like I said, a Mexican mocha is another matter entirely.
Still. For all I love the shallow comforts of the season (and the selfish joy of birthday presents!), it’s the deeper truth of this turning that gets me. Sometimes if we let go of our attachments—like the leaves on the trees—we find there’s some new life there, just waiting to be born. Some old thing passes away … and we lose our life only to find it.