(A Love Letter for) October

As the weather cools, my mind slams inward in an abrupt transition from ‘doing’ to ‘thinking’, and as the thinking-months go, October has my heart. It may seem like an obvious choice for artistic affection and October’s popularity has the potential to redirect the part-time deep-thinker toward barren November or stoic January for philosophical inspiration. But, like that popular girl in school–the one with the winning smile–I am still smitten and powerless against her charms.
Because, within the melodrama of October’s 31 days, I find surprising truths and remarkable depth.
Yes, the brilliant yellows of twisting, paintbrush birch trees saturate the skyline and contrast beautifully with crisp blue, but below the birch and the showy maple, the undergrowth of the forest has gone yellow as well. It glows and illuminates the floor and as leaves fall, paths are clearly seen; nooks of the woods that rarely get noticed when covered in all-green, all-brown, or all-white are now exposed briefly for exploring eyes.
So too, in the artificial terror of Halloween that we’ve learned to commoditize as we’ve grown up, there is reality and humanity waiting to surprise us. Whether or not we know what we’ve done, we’ve created a fun way to bring death to light; to take a good look at it, face-to-face. We learn not to be scared by it because it’s just a mask, after all. But fear does persist and it teaches, gently, through these darker nights and earlier afternoons. A brisk and rattling 8 o’clock wind still makes me walk faster. Colder, greedier waves still make me watch my feet closer as I navigate the rocks.
And, in all the fun of a great pile of fallen leaves, as I sink down into them (unable to stand for laughing) their nostalgic smell catches me, pulls me further down until I’m covered. I’m not able to stop a brief detour into mortality as the sounds of life around me become background noise to the reality of this slowly-dying enclosure. My throat may catch and my heart may pound, but when a child’s hand reaches into the pile, searching for mine, I shake my head, snap to, and start brushing off my leaf-coat. Smiling again, I rejoin the other reality, and in one deep inhalation of October air, I distill both death and life into a single, beautiful autumn moment.

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