A Cool, Crisp Toast To October

Oct 7, 2019

When I was a kid, July was the best month. You were out of school and the whole summer was in front of you. Somewhere in my 30s, I switched to April – the flowers springing from the ground, the coats going back in the closet.

Now, in my 50s, I’ve come to love October.

As I’m recording this, fall is late in arriving. It’s still hot enough to sting my hands when I touch the steering wheel. But sometime soon, the weather will turn for good, and we can open our windows and let the cool breeze through. October gives us that.

October is the best sports month. All the flaws in baseball – the time between pitches, the lack of a clock – turn into features in the playoffs. There are false endings, plot twists, unlikely heroes. Every game feels like a Hitchcock thriller. It’s early enough in the football season that your team isn’t out of the hunt, and maybe they’re unexpectedly good. Hello, Wake Forest.

And that sound you hear toward the end of the month is the NBA starting up.

October is state fair season. The last time we went to the North Carolina State Fair, we watched pig races, ate fried Oreos, toured a log cabin, raced mechanical horses with squirt guns, and listened to a bluegrass band. And there’s nothing more beautiful than a midway at night.

Lots of people go to the mountains in October to look at the leaves. That’s a nice trip, too. But I tend to enjoy just watching the leaves from our porch as they swirl down the street like some modern dance routine. Somehow all those leaves end up in our yard. One day we’ll have to rake them up. But not today.

I mentioned the porch. In the middle of summer, it belongs to the heat and the skeeters. But in October it’s ours again. At some point during the month the nights will start to have a little bite to them. My wife staves it off with a blanket. I tend to have a little bourbon. Whatever works for you.

And then, on the last night of the month, the trick-or-treaters flood our street. The first year we weren’t ready and ran out of candy so fast we had to turn the lights off and hide. But now we load up on the industrial-size bags from Costco and dole out the treats to the ghouls and ninjas and princesses.

I do wonder how much this love of October is just a sign of being in the autumn of my life. That Sinatra song “It Was a Very Good Year” sounds more true every time I hear it. But it’s not time to settle up just yet – that’s for winter. For now it’s time to appreciate the shortening days, to linger over the changes, to stand in awe at a morning as cool and crisp as an apple. That’s October. That’s a great time to be alive.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.