“All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.” -Thomas Wolfe
For some time, I’ve wanted to write something with this quote in mind that would bring some semblance of its brevity on one hand and at the same time the depth of understanding in these simple words. It’s indeed ironic in that Thomas Wolfe, known for his lengthy prose could easily have written 2000 words on this one quote… but he didn’t, he said it all in just 36 magical words. I hope I can do it justice.
Autumn begins in late September under the cusp of the September equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Christian calendar, this is known as the Feast of St. Michael… the darkening of days into longer nights. This year we can add a lunar eclipse to this sacred threshold as the dust settles on the last days of September, the world bundles up tumbling toward the shadowy world that is October.
The richness of ‘fall ‘colors, create a sense of wonder as it hides the secrets of death and decay as we are holding on to the last leaf, the last miracle of life. But we’ve yet to realize that in death life must rise again. In this, we may lose light to darkness but we are gaining something far more precious; a mystical light.
October is a ‘thin place’. Thin places mark the boundary between what was and what is; light and dark, good and evil, the reconciling of opposites; this is the month for meditation, mindfulness, and awareness. For one can easily get lost in October’s beauty and live forever inside the mind. However, we are not meant to live in only one hemisphere. We are of both, time and space. And we can make October a month of peace and transition.
Days of light growing shorter give way to darker days and the merriment of witches and goblins by months end. The ritual of Halloween, a precursor to the holiday season as death and decay allowed one last dance. County fairs and festivals are familiar to October as a sense of community; coming home which guides us to Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year and ending with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 12.
A State of Mind
But what does October mean to me? Looking back over my life, it appears October has been a singular event for me in many ways as the first frost like a sheet of crushed ice across the top of lawns and the roof of houses and barns jogs my memory.
The end of the harvest… the harvest moon… the music of Bach… sleeping with the windows open… old dogs warming their chilled bones by the fire… geese fly in formation… black birds… bats rising up from the rafters of the barn heading toward a nocturnal ritual…the sweet fragrance of Gardenias… the delicate colors of Pansies… freshly brewed coffee… the season’s first hot chocolate… days of contemplation and wonder.
The end of the fishing season and the beginning of the hunting season…the picking of apples and the season’s first taste of apple cider… long walks in a deep wood… the laughter of children out for recess in the chilled air… the sweet taste of sugar cane…my grandmother’s red and white checkered apron, reading Poe’s Raven by the fire.
The reflected light from the setting sun causes brush strokes of orange and blue…the night sky seems clearer and closer as the cat sleeps longer… dogs bark louder…hobbits drinking beer in the post dawn sun… bats are returning from a hard day’s night as squirrels gather nuts and acorns for their winter stores… the pumpkin patch…scarecrows…red-tailed hawks.
All things on earth point home in old October.