by Curt Kovener
Today we are mid-way through autumnal month—the Ides of October—which, from the standpoint of the senses, is surely misspelled.
Throughout the month all our body’s senses will be reminded of the seasonal pleasures of Ahhhh-tober.
Look about the fields. The drying corn still unharvested is bowing its ears burdened with grain. Soybeans are more and more gaining a yellow tinge telling us that they, too, are nearly ready for picking. Mz. Mary’s garden is now nearly bare after bearing all summer long. All that is left is a few pepper plants to ripen all fruit before the frost.
In the woods the sumac, sweet gum and beech are already shedding their chlorophyll masks revealing their leaves’ many true shades of scarlet. And before the month is out the tulip, poplar, hickory and maple will offer their compliments with hues of golds and yellows along with the muted tones of brown from the family of oaks. It is nature’s artist palate from which we must drink deeply because, unlike the nourishing summer-long green season, Jack Frost’s work is all too fleeting—it is there and with a brisk fall breeze, the colors become a carpet.
And too soon there will be the rustle-crunch of leaves as they are raked. In not-so-olden times there would be large piles inviting youngsters to jump right in. And formerly there would be the pleasant acrid smoke as piles of leaves were burned.
But, now, at the urging of my red-haired roommate, we grind our leaves into mulch for her flower and vegetable garden.
It is not necessarily a coincidental sidelight that the same mulch pile that makes her plants thrive also produces some of the best growing for earthworms for next spring’s early bluegill fishing.
There is the early Ahhhh-tober morning chill when a flannel shirt or jacket allows us to enjoy a morning walk. But to take in the month’s pleasures, our gait must be slowed to an appropriate and appreciative stroll. By near mid-day the temperature has climbed to make the extra layer of clothing uncomfortable, so we remove it and enjoy the golden warmth of a fall day. But don’t misplace your jacket for it will surely be needed in the evening and again tomorrow morning as the daily month-long cycle repeats as the thermometer retreats. We should embrace these golden Ahhhh-tober days for next month’s rain will come cold and gray and be a harbinger of nature’s seasonal winter sleep to come.
The native southern Indiana persimmon, in all of its versions, this month will begin allowing Mz. Mary to make a batch of fresh persimmon pudding.
And it is this time of year that I get an annual craving and begin rummaging through my desk drawers for my put away pipe and all its paraphernalia.
Yes, it is a bad, unhealthy habit. My Gramp smoked cigars and chewed tobacco and still died prematurely at age 90. We learn by example so I’ll take my autumnal chances.
There is something about the slowing down pace of nature which calls out for us to take time to notice it. And the filling of a pipe, the tamping and cleaning and continual lighting and puffing all seems to fit into that slower sensual season.
My pipe, my dog, my favorite brown wool hat and a tromp through the chilled woods crunching over fallen leaves, picking up some hickory nuts, breathing deep of the warming tones of nature. Returning home it gives me that good kind of tired feeling that when I lean back in my comfortable chair I am convinced the month surely must be Ahhhh-tober.