Cool misty mornings, red-ripe apples, falling-leaves, gushing rivers, restful critters, and kids firmly tucked into the school routine. Pickling spices, pressure canners, and rows of gleaming jars full of fruits and veggies on the counter. Fresh straw in the stalls, on the pea patch, and stacked on the porch as the perfect perch for Jack-O-Lanterns, pots of colorful mums, and a bushels of bumpy gourds. This is Ahhhhhctober to me, today, on my farm.
Once upon a time, it was slightly different. The mornings were drippy and the fog sometimes so thick, I couldn’t see more than a foot in front of me as I walked the familiar path to school. There were more coniferous trees than deciduous; not so many falling leaves as falling cones and needles. Critters would have been a rabbit, chinchilla, goldfish or irritable parakeet; the only type of pets my parents allowed in our house once we had moved into town. Jack-O-Lanterns to be sure, but they were carved the night-before and molding by the day-after. Gourds from my grandparents garden, yes, but no fancy displays. This was life in a small town on the Oregon Coast, which was already rain soaked and sodden by this time.
But we didn’t care; because it was also Birthday Month. Four of our six family members had opal-stone birthdays. It was a month for celebration. And cake. Lots of cake. Each person was celebrated on their own special day with their favorite. A box cake for Mom, made “lovingly” by her kids. Gingerbread for older brother, Matt. Chocolate with boiled fudge frosting for Dad, and yellow cake with chocolate icing for baby, Timbo. And then there was the big weekend gathering that included the grandparents bringing more sweets, treats, and gifts – for all! They felt so bad that my sis and I were left out of the wrapper-tearing party; they always included something for us. That’s what grandparents do. It was a good month.
I think of this as the month of “settling.” We have stopped mourning the summer sun, gone before we were ready. The garden has slowed to a crawl from its non-stop over-productions. Animals have had their babies and have calmed and quieted. We wake and sleep to the rhythms of a now familiar routine that will take us into the winter months and beyond. There are so many differences and similarities between my life then and now. More animals, more kids, more work, but at the heart of each; family.
Make yourself a soothing cup of tea, take a little trip in your mind back to the things you loved about this time as a child, then forward to what it means to you now. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Ahhhhhhctober.