Jessie Raymond: October: Folks, we have a winner!
An open letter to Vermont’s Best Month of the Year Award Committee:
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to nominate October for Best Month.
I know I should defend my birth month instead: “March is great. There’s nothing as uplifting as a heavy, wet snowstorm just when it seemed like spring was coming. And all that mud! When I wake up on a blustery March day, it feels good just to be alive.” But I just can’t.
I’ll concede that all the months have at least one good quality. Things start to green up in April, for instance, and I am filled with the mistaken but earnest belief that this will be the year I conquer my yard and garden. May has lilacs. July has cookouts. Even January, typically a challenging month for me, brings hope; you can often find me rocking back and forth under a comforter, chanting, “The days are getting longer. The days are getting longer.”
But, come on. October can’t be beat.
First, you’ve got the obvious: the foliage. I mean, have you seen this state? Make fun of the gawking leaf-peepers all you want, but the only difference between us and them is that they can take pictures all day, not just before and after work.
The weather, too, is just about ideal. This is the time of year I like to call a friend of mine in southern California to brag. “There’s nothing like having seasons,” I say. (A kind woman, she never mentions my loud disdain for winter, spring and summer. And late fall.)
For a while this September, I started to worry that summer would literally never end. But then October came, the air cooled, and I went through the annual ritual of rediscovering my winter clothes with delight. These are the same layers I cast off in disgust a few short months ago. But for now, they are like old friends I can’t wait to get reacquainted with. (I always look forward to winter when I’m not yet bone cold.)
For now, it’s just chilly enough to make me throw another blanket on the bed and spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about apple pie. In a couple of months, I’ll be so perpetually frozen that my toes won’t uncurl for weeks at a time.
October is also when cooking starts to appeal to me again. Goodbye, salads and sandwiches; hello, comfort foods. I’m cranking out roasts and stews and breads faster than we can eat them, and I’m baking almost daily. (My October motto: “So much cinnamon, so little time.”)
Sometimes it even snows a little in October. Isn’t that cute? “Look,” I say, pointing out the window like a kindergartner. “Flurries!” It’s as if I’m a different person, a less-jaded version of myself, one who doesn’t think of snow as proof that life is unfair.
But the best thing about October in Vermont, one you never see mentioned in tourist guides, is the forgiveness. It’s OK to give up now.
Remember this spring when you said you were finally going to get that bikini body this year? Well, you can exhale; no one can see your abs under that down vest. Did you need to get out and harvest that basil? Problem solved: The frost killed it. Were you going to paint the shed? Resurface the driveway? Cut down the buckthorn? Power wash the house?
Forget about it. You can worry about all of that next spring. For now, put on a chunky sweater and drink your hot cider. The pressure is off.
I wonder if I like October because its charms are so fleeting. While November is, technically, still part of fall, it’s no October. The leaves drop and the skies turn gray. Worst of all, November carries a growing sense of doom that Christmas is looming — with all the social, financial, familial and dietary angst that goes with it.
But none of that matters just yet. It’s October.
In summary, ladies and gentlemen, I hope the Best Month of the Year Award Committee will consider my arguments in favor of October. And I haven’t even mentioned the kicker: Halloween. If you aren’t swayed by the fall colors, the crisp weather and the absolution bestowed by the first hard frost, consider the month’s final gift: a one-night, guilt-free, all-you-can-eat candy orgy.
October: It’s a winner.
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