October. October at last.
wrote a month ago
that even Texas has to admit that there is something to this Autumn thing when September rolls around. But it has always been October that has meant that Autumn's in full fall swing. No other month is poised so precariously: two months earlier, there's burning blue white August and a promise of inifinite summer; one month from now, and we're into November, which is as winter time as you can be. Ishmael couldn't have put it better: "whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul" can't mean anything but Old Man Winter settling in.
My sister, who shares quite a few of my strange ways, once told me that Autumn was the "most real time of the year." I told a friend of mine that, and she smiled at me and said, "Yes, that's exactly it." The fading color, the long slow swansong afternoons and the cool cool mornings all seem to be more intense, more real than those endless summer days.
I remember once in college, I went home with a girl and fell in love with her room mate, a gravelly grizzled woman with a smoker's rasp but who happened to be named Autumn.
I remember a long long time ago writing my friend Suzanne, whom I had always had a lingering crush on, and painstakingly copying "To Autumn" into a letter that I brazenly embellished with twisting roses, al la the Grateful Dead. She loved it (thank God the less poetic of us have Keats to lean on).
And I remember growing up, and how when it started to turn cold my mom would always say, "There's frost on the pumpkin."
So I've carved my first pumpkin of the season, a very Martha Stewartesque white pumpkin from the Central Market next door. I pulled out last year's carving kit and decided on an art noveau design of different sized circles. Rather than faces, I always like weird things on the pumpkin: glaring eyes, scorpions, Chinese characters. I think these circles might be a keeper, especially since you can cheat on carving them by using a drill.
And now I've lit the pumpkin candle, and I'm watching the pumpkin patterns warm the walls, smelling the pumpkin stem slowly burning from the heat of the candle, and thinking of all things about Nabakov:
Everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change, nobody will ever die.
Nothing's changed here since 9/20/98.
...that country where it is always turning late in the year.
That country ... where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay...
That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts.
Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain...
--October Country, Ray Bradybury