Today is the first of October. This post was supposed to have been for yesterday. Then Shinki died and in my preoccupation with writing about him I forgot to either finish properly or postpone this post. So we are giving it a second chance. Second chances are very often a good thing and since there is no question, October is my favorite month, a second chance for this post is the best thing. Why is October my favorite month? September is still too warm these days and November starts to get too cold but October is usually just right and this October is starting beautifully.
We still could have the windows open last night but at five I woke up a little chilly in spite of four purring bed warmers. It will be time to go get the winter blankets out of storage this week. October is subtle. There was just enough chill to wake me before the dawn but not enough to make me think it was really cold. But I may start closing some of he windows at night. Not all, just some. The dew is heavier but the air is lighter and the sky is the true sky blue not greyed out by humidity and haze. And you appreciate those sunny days more with that bit of chill whispering in your ear “Soon gone. Soon gone”. I start thinking about pulling out my dog-eared copies of Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree, Something Wicked his Way Comes and of course The October Country. Ray Bradbury may not have had the grand effect on Halloween that Dickens did on Christmas but he gave it an elegance and meaning no one else ever did.
In 1947, Arkham House , the publisher established to get H.P Lovecraft into wider publication, put out Dark Carnival, Ray Bradbury’s debut book, of short stories from his days of writing for the classic pulp magazines, notably Weird Tales. In 1955 Ballantine Books reprinted the collection, subtracting some of the stories and adding a few others, and including wonderfully matched illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini such as those at right. Ballantine titled their collection The October Country. In one edition (there have now been many) there was a little blurb “October country, that country where it is always turning late in the year.” It is often turning late in the day or late in someone’s life as well.
Things end in the October country. That’s where things are laid to rest. It will be easy to remember Shinki at this time of year along with all the others who have passed. The farmer’s market has ended for the season rather prematurely I think but that can be laid at the feet of the city. I can go to one over at the county seat util the end of the month, farmer Frank will still be there but even that ends with October. The leaves are starting to turn now and it will be beautiful ids the clear weather holds out. We had more rain and the trees are in better shape to produce nice color instead of the yellowish brown of last year. They will be radiant and then drop away to be blown in the autumn wind and excite the cats with skittery noises. The trees will let the moonlight through their branches and make the night spooky.
The way things are these days I would like to indulge in a little nostalgia ala Bradbury. I want to swim in the cool autumn darkness as I would an ocean. I want to turn my back on the mundane this month and journey through the magical. Please join me while I shine some lamplight down the path into the October Country.