October has long been one of my favorite months, though lately it hasn't been so kind to my sinuses. Those of you with chronic sinusitis know exactly what I mean. Kleenex and Vicks get a lot of support from me, especially when the seasons change.
When I was a kid, the weather seemed to shift a few weeks earlier than now, with fall-like weather hitting about the same time the autumnal equinox did. Now the high temperatures hang in a bit longer, and the leaves change later. Summer just can't seem to quit us.
It's not quite cool enough yet for me to start wearing sweaters (and pants in the house instead of shorts), or to start pulling out the cocoa and marshmallows (and s'mores ... I prefer them in fall anyway).
But it's coming.
That means it's time for Halloween/horror/sci-fi movies all month long (though I'll admit I started early on that, and have already had my at-least-once-yearly "Hocus Pocus" fix, this time in preparation for "Hocus Pocus 2," which I watched with a friend Friday evening).
It's also time for my six-month hair maintenance; if I could afford to do it every three or four months, I would, if just for those two hours when I don't have to do anything but be pampered. And believe me, if you've seen me lately, you know I need that cut and color.
And then there are the colors on the trees and in yards. Yard work slows to a crawl (usually, anyway) since cooler weather cuts down on the need to mow, and some of us tend not to rake much, if at all (a little because we're lazy and/or not overly concerned with lawns that aren't full of native plants, and a little because we know that butterflies and others lay eggs in the leaves and we don't want to interrupt their life cycle).
Once upon a time I would go on photo hikes just about every weekend in the fall, but haven't done that much in recent years; I need to do it again. Getting out in the fresh, cool air is good for body and mind, so once my head clears up and I figure out how to make my camera read the SD card again, watch out. At least now I have a smartphone, so if I get lost in the woods--again (I'm a master at getting lost)--it won't take me as long to make my way out (thank goodness for a nearby soccer tournament going on the last time since the sounds helped me figure out where I was).
All the oranges, yellows, reds and browns of this time of year always remind me of falls when I was younger. Though pine and cedar seemed to predominate much of our area, we also had a lot of oak and other deciduous trees around that would shift color, subtly at first, before erupting in a blaze of red and orange just before the leaves fell to cover the ground. All the hills around us would be awash with color, which always made me happy.
I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin spice (except in actual pumpkin pie, which I don't eat till Thanksgiving), so the pumpkin spice latte thing is lost on me. But I remember a few years when my mom, brothers and I would carve a pumpkin in the kitchen of our old house. I don't remember what we did with the pumpkin guts, but I feel certain that at least some of the guts were thrown in sibling warfare.
There would also be area haunted houses to go to, usually with my friend Tanya, and Halloween carnivals at the Witcherville and Dayton community buildings. Our 4-H club put on the one at Dayton, usually the Saturday before Halloween, and it was always fun, though I can't remember details about the games now (I vaguely recall a fishing booth that I often was stationed in, but I can't remember how it operated). Grandpa's birthday was two days before Halloween, so sometimes the carnival would fall on the same day, which meant an all-day celebration.
And then there would be Halloween itself. Since we were out in the country, we didn't have a lot of close neighbors, so an adult would usually drive us around for an hour or so before taking us back to Nanny and Grandpa's, where we'd dump the candy in the floor and divvy it up. One year I was sick, so my brothers took an extra bag with them to collect candy for me. Sometimes they could be really sweet.
When they weren't being jerks, as older brothers sometimes tend to be.
Times have changed since then. Our parents and grandparents are all gone, as is one brother, and many of the other people who helped shape us in childhood. Adult responsibilities have taken the place of a lot of the fun of this time of year. But my love for autumn hasn't changed.
You can have your pumpkin spice lattes. I'll take the cocoa and s'mores while snuggled up in a blanket watching Halloween movies, cuddle sessions with a certain fur-nephew, the occasional walk through fallen leaves, and remembering the innocence of another time (I don't miss those plastic character masks, though; they really smelled bad).
We could all stand to take some time to enjoy the season. I mean, the real horror (Election Day) happens next month, so let's get in some relaxation and introspection in before we decide how the next four years here should go.
Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com.