This week there were sunny warm days where I could pretend it was still August. There were clear star-riddled skies at night with a half-moon bright enough to throw moon-shadows. But we’d already had a few frosts. The flowers by my door were gone.
I asked a dozen people to tell me something beautiful about October.
“The colors,” several said. “The smell in the air,” said others. Sniffing the crisp air, I went on walks with friends and photographed hillsides of trees blushing red. Camille showed me a big wall of stone hearts just behind us that I missed, distracted by a swollen stream. Dennis pointed out huge root systems buried under the leaves in the woods.
“See the leaves raining down?” asked Virginia. Our feet made loud shooshing sounds as we walked through the light crunchy blanket on the forest floor. It was stunning. It mostly made me sad.
My daughter loved this time of the year. Marika could make Halloween last the whole month. She saw lights and music, opportunities to dress up, silly pumpkins, and the holidays to come. I always saw mud, short dark days, flooding, imminent storms, and long months ahead lumbering under heavy winter jackets.
At home I turned up the heat. I made chili and started to stuff the freezer with storm food. I put out plastic battery-powered candles that flick fake orange fire. It was not beautiful but the candles’ glow and the aromas of hot hearty soups comforted me.
“Look,” said my friend Valentina, “you didn’t see.” She pointed to the single flower she’d placed on the table next to my manuscript that I have started to rewrite once more. The flower stood there, simple and sweet but cheeky. Still fresh, its long petals were just beginning to tangle. It had a radiance that made me melt.
“This is the last flower from my garden,” Valentina said.
I sat with it and couldn’t help but smile. I watched it like I used to watch my daughter’s hazel eyes.