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Sunday, October 17, 2021

October’s Golden Glow

“. . . They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock . . .”

Excerpt from When the Frost is on the Punkin, by Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley, 1849–1916

Autumn is gently turning down the light on the brilliant joys of summer, and, in its stead, the month of October offers us some of the most vibrant delights of the year.

Gone are the warm days of July and August, when the bright morning sun has risen before us. Now we awaken to refreshingly crisp, cool temperatures while it’s still dark outside. Once the sunshine appears, however, we are treated to sparkling signs that Jack Frost has been here: overnight, he has left crystal traces of his lacy handiwork artistically etched on our windowpanes.

That mischievous elfish creature has also lightly nipped the green leaves of the trees with his silver paintbrush and magically transformed them into a rainbow of dazzling colors: flaming crimson, burnt orange, sunny yellow, and glowing amber. Finally, Jack Frost has begun to loosen the stems of the leaves, releasing them to dance lightly through the air and flutter silently to the ground.

Ah! Golden October. It has its own characteristic charm. Time to retrieve from the back of the closet those warm sweaters, scarves and gloves, go outside, and enjoy! Just take a look at that deep azure sky filled with flocks of birds… Our wise feathered friends are gathering together to fly southward towards more temperate climes.

In anticipation of the cold weather ahead, the squirrels are busily stocking their larders with black walnuts, hazelnuts, and assorted acorns from hardy oaks. Can you detect the pungent aroma of drifting wood smoke from bonfires in the distance? Mmmmmm . . . There’s a definite nip in the air, and restless Mr. Wind can be heard whistling through the trees.

Out in the country, the grain has ripened, and fields have turned to brown, but pumpkins with their familiar orange-yellow hue and tan-colored corn stalks bundled together add lively splashes of color here and there. Sometimes standing guard nearby is a comic scarecrow, sporting denim overalls with red paisley patches and sandy-beige straw hat.

The flowers of summer have almost faded away, but a deep orange marigold and hardy chrysanthemums, in rust and purple, remain in my garden patch to brighten the barren scene.

Fallen leaves form a soft carpet under my feet as I shuffle along, their crunch and rustle crackling with every step. I pass by houses festooned with festive ears of Indian corn on the front doors, and, as evening begins, jolly Jack-O-Lanterns aglow with candlelight appear on porch steps and peer out of windows.

My thoughts turn to hot chocolate, roasted marshmallows, crunchy apples, sweet cider, and pumpkin pie fresh from the oven. In the deepening twilight, I feel the invigorating chill of the night air and eagerly head for home, to curl up with a good book near my blazing fireplace.

Nature, as in all of life, has a beginning and then an end, but, as James Whitcomb Riley suggested in his famous poem “When The Frost is on the Punkin,” excerpted above, this should not be cause for melancholy. When days turn cool, and winter’s on the horizon, we may wish to hang on to the warmth of summer–its lush green leaves, beautiful birds, and busy bees–but if we open our eyes to the fresh wonders of autumn, we realize there is an abundance of reasons to be just as happy now. Every season is one to be savored.

As with the seasons, the substance of our lives is also transitory. As one chapter ends, we may look back with longing and wish for the “good old days,” but it’s well to remember that other experiences, different, of course, but equally pleasurable, are still to be discovered and appreciated on the path ahead.

The splendor of the summer months is over and gone, but take heart! In its place, the magnificence of October has arrived. It’s time to gather up our happy memories and prepare for the exciting, new days to come.

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