“The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched”
For its rich colors, its slanting light, the way the axis of the world exerts its tilt, the feeling of delicious melancholy, the accordion pleating of previous warmth with impending cold, the heartening sense of continued life amongst clear decay,
October is my favorite month.
We jump in piles of leaves and watch raptors migrate South and smell the wood smoke and plan to be ninjas for trick-or-treating–and the whole damn month feels like the last time we will stretch our arms wide, looking up to the sun with awe and reverence, before folding them back across our breasts and lowering our heads, craning downwards to watch for ice.
Plus, in October, there’s a final harvest.
Out of all possible metaphors, that of “harvest” snags me best. Planning and cultivating and nurturing and waiting? Listen, I might not be able to find a screwdriver in the basement or hop out of bed happily at 7 a.m., but the components of a harvest? Those, I can do. Thus, the whole cycle that leads to harvest assures me that I have actual life skills, even though I might drop my kids off late for their friends’ birthday parties and not really understand where in the house we file our bank statements. Harvest reminds me that some of us are good at the nebulous things. Some of us, like October, are conceptual–yet we still produce a practical yield.
Throughout the summer, we gathered in vegetables as they ripened, but the bulk of our harvest has happened in the last weeks, before the first freeze. And what a payoff, this business of biding your time and then biding it some more, until, finally, almost as a surprise, the windfall arrives. It reminds me of how I finally met, at the age of 31, the man whom I’d marry (just I was beginning to fear my eggs would require harvesting if I ever hoped to have children).
This is the one I plucked from near the footpath in my Garden of Desolation. He stood out as the sole sunflower:
If it only snowed an inch, that’s gonna hurt.
An emblem of October,
they prove that a slow, gentle basking in the warmth–
a slow cook–
imparts all the hardiness needed
to prosper in the face of impending cold.