Old October

90279041_XS“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.

© JC

18 thoughts on “Old October

  1. What can I say? you know I am a huge fan! Your writing just flows in my mind when I read it. It is like a wave of beauty. The images that you write about and what October means to you strikes something inside of me. It makes me feel like I am sitting at my grama Elva’s table, I am back in grade school, the leaves are ruffling around me, I experience it all. You move me with your words and how you put it all together, elegant and yet simple! I love this!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. At first I was stuck on what I wanted to say and how to say it. I went for a walk and these memories just started flowing, I could see my grandmother in her kitchen and the black birds singing away. From there it was trying to write as fast as my memory was working.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. JC, what a wonderful and uplifting creation you have given us. It became my spiritual morning read. I would have loved to highlight both paragraph 3 and 4, who in their purity
    washes away silt.
    “But we have yet to realise that in death we must rise again”. ” ..we are both time and space”

    Yes, you bring so strongly forth how October shows that we are so much more than we let ourselves be. Your gentle handling of beauty, death and new life – of time and space.
    I am already getting too lengthy.:) but you inspired me.

    Your own experience is so beautiful and must have given much harmony. Just now I am sipping coffee and listening to Mozart… It is amazing how fireplaces created soft memories through the centuries.
    Thank you Jeff.
    Blessings on this October day

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is such a beautiful post JC! In your ‘State of Mind’ section my heart travels along with you on your Autumn path, I am there in front of your Grandmother’s fireplace, I spy the bats flitting at dusk, taste the cider apple. I love the way you sneak the odd fictional into this section, especially the ‘hobbits’. I feel October is a month on the cusp, as you as say, leading into the darkness, bleakness of the months ahead. As such we burrow like tiny mammals into the comfort of our homes, bringing light and cosiness with us. Being Swedish candles are as much part of our life as breathing, their gentle light lending an aura mystery and warmth to early evenings.Then on December 13th we have ‘Lucia’, bringing of light into the darkness, an event celebrated in every home and across the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. I love candles but had not heard of ‘Lucia’, bringing light into darkness. It is indeed wonderful how we feel the sense of this season across miles and oceans and cultures… each in our own way but yet as one.
      Thank you,

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Deep-felt and beautifully penned… October as a state of mind… that was touching… I could even listen to Bach as I read those lines… Maybe the Brandenburg concert number 2
    Thanks for sharing … Sending best wishes. Aquileana 🐉☀️


  5. This post I believe, would have made Thomas Wolfe smile. It certainly made me smile and reflect. My only daughter was born in October…after 5 boys…and then as a woman…she had her first child…also in October. A couple of weeks ago…I stared out my window and wrote the beginning of a story I’ve been contemplating for 2 years now. Your words summed up October beautifully. Thank you for sharing…and thank you for liking my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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