For my records, I gave this column the title of Glorious October in memory of the days when it really was glorious. We lived in the East then and the hills and mountains were truly works of art at this time of year.
The mix of colours would inspire anyone with the least talent to paint it, write music or poetry about it.
For dullards like me, I was reduced to gazing in awe and eventually raking up the windblown fragments of the palette that fell on our lawn.
The memory never fades.
There was a time when I thought of this month as a golden time but that was then and this is now.
I’m older, more battered, more cynical and more inclined to sit and think grand thoughts than get out into my garden to clean up the mess.
What delighted us all summer has been reduced to a tired, forlorn residue, just a memory of days past. Besides, I just had another birthday and it rankles. I now give my age in Celsius.
Still, I think that our memories do play tricks on us. I believe we are genetically engineered to have clearer memories of the nice things than the nasty.
While I easily remember crisp bright mornings I rarely remember that first hint of what is to come when the October breeze carries with it the first touch of unforgiving iron cold.
The morning comes when one looks out and sees the frosting on roofs, cars and lawns.
The red and gold leaves are exchanged for thoughts of snow tires, anti-freeze, the soaring cost of heating oil.
October does have its compensations on the Wet Coast.
Hockey and football fill the television screen for those interested, Oktoberfest … of more interest to me … is here. Benjamin Franklin said that beer was God’s way of showing man he wants us to be happy.
I’ll drink to that.
October also brings with it the warmth of a fireplace, the comfort of an easy chair and a good book to read without the nagging feeling that one should be out and about doing manual labour in the garden or walking briskly around the block.
I’m always amused by the difference in Canadian and American ways of celebrating Thanksgiving. In Canada, we have a long weekend and, if possible, invite family and friends in for a more or less traditional meal, usually turkey or ham.
On Tuesday it’s back to work. In the U.S., it’s the kick-off for a full month of overeating, drinking and above all, shopping, all merrily promoted twenty-four seven by the media.
And then it’s Christmas. For those dieting, it must be hell.
For those with maxed out credit cards, it must be hell times two.
In any case, dear reader, we all know that you and I are not the types to take pleasure in other people’s misery but one of the guilty pleasures of living with our dark, wet winters is the sneaky feeling of smugness we get when seeing pictures of Easterners in snow to their knees digging cars out of snow banks.
I’m not the only one struggling to come to grips with summer’s loss and winter’s wet and windy breath.
John Donne who wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls, the poem not the book, also faced this season but with a much more lovely sentiment when he wrote to a lady of a certain age:
“No Spring nor Summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.”
Wow, that’ll do it!