And now, October

If you wait until Oct. 1 to turn on the furnace in these parts, you may be chilly for a few days. We held out until Sept. 28 this year — close enough.

October is the month of brilliant colors, nature’s final fireworks display until the drab of bare trees and white and cold, which brings a different kind of beauty, stark and silent.

This is the month of crunchy leaves underfoot, and kids and dogs romping through carefully raked piles, scattering it all over again; the smell of burning leaves (unless banned by people who forget their childhood); the aroma of mulled cider; and the displays of scary and jolly pumpkin faces and skeletons and funny monsters and not-so-funny monsters, topped off by an eerie parade of costumed children in an everlasting quest for bags and bags of chocolate (a quest that never quite ends, as older folks may attest).

October is a month of endings, and growing cold, and creeping darkness in the morning and late afternoon. When dawn begins at 5 a.m. and sunset comes around 9 p.m. and light rules the sky, October is a distant memory — but when it comes around again, it’s not as bad as it seemed from that distance. There is a cozy feel to snuggling against the coolness, slippers and sweaters and sweatshirts coming out of storage as old friends. Without October we have no buffer between summer and the winter to come; without the winter to come, we would not appreciate the warmth of the summer sun and we might even curse the heat.

October is our time of battening down the hatches and making sure our defenses against cruel Mother Nature are all in place.

And how could I forget that October is the month when hot chocolate becomes appropriate again? The everlasting quest is fulfilled.

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