I’ve experienced a spectrum of Octobers in my life.
In Seward, I often approach the month with dread. This year, inches of rain are funneling into the streams, the roads, every lake and any channel that water can fit in. Water, water everywhere, with nothing to do but drink. Landslides are closing roads, further pushing people inside.
But, the dread isn’t always warranted. Last year, my coastal, temperate rainforest home presented a different October. I remember collecting handfuls of late season blueberries in the alpine, with a low hanging sun warming my face on a chilly afternoon.
Whether the weather is dry or drenched, during my years in Alaska, I’ve always been shocked by the severity that October brings. The night becomes commanding in October, warranting headlamps at hours that I once spent in the sun. While October is technically autumn, in Alaska it often marks the start of winter.
In years past, I spent my October afternoons sitting on the beach after school. The autumn along the Jersey Shore means just slightly cooler temperatures and empty beaches, the perfect combination for an afternoon walk along the boardwalk or a weekend spent with a bathing suit underneath your sweatshirt.
I would drive to the beach from my high school parking lot, ignoring homework and obligations to soak up the last few weeks of October sunshine.
During my time in Boston, October was meant for leaf peeping. I would walk along Newbury Street toward the Boston Commons, enjoying the flourishing autumnal leaves amidst the city’s landscape. I adored the afternoons toward the end of the month when the leaves fell and they would crunch under my boot and into the cobblestone. I can’t resist a crunchy, orange leaf on the ground.
No matter where I spend my October, it’s consistently a time spent in between.
In Alaska, it transforms long, summer days into long, winter nights. In New Jersey, it marked the end of busy beach crowds and a return of the quiet ocean swims. In Boston, it turned the green in the city to a burnt palate.
This year, we’re all in between no matter where we are. We have a year of turmoil, unrest, unease and anguish, with some bright moments sprinkled throughout. Ahead of us, we have a choice that will send us in one direction or the other.
I’m pacing back and forth this October, thinking about what this year has wrought and waiting to see what November will bring.
And I hope that you too are looking forward, past this October, and envisioning a November that you’ll be proud of.