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October 1, 2009

Last night the mercury dipped below 40 for the first time in months. No frost yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I am curled up on my bed in corduroys and an enormous grey wool cardigan that I bought to replace an old one of my father’s that I wore into shreds in high school and college. But this one never felt quite right, and so although I’ve had it for a good twenty years, it looks like new. My feet are covered in my warmest wool socks. And as soon as AJ gets home from school, I plan to commission him to help me build a fire that we can snuggle up to for a while. It seems a good way to christen October.

October came with me to the grocery store this afternoon, where I bought cabbage and leeks and potatoes and a big bag of apples. October is running around the yard, gathering food for winter. The fat-cheeked squirrels are racing up and down the linden tree like there’s no tomorrow. The chipmunks are manically tearing around the streets, often proving the truth of the rule of survival of the fittest. Just now, I saw an enormous turkey vulture land at the end of our driveway and drag a flat and bloodied chipmunk carcass from the road into the grasses just beyond, thus saving me a nasty job with a shovel later.

The deer are back. We see them nights, the mothers and babies, who have been hiding all summer. We never see the bucks until winter. The spots are fading on the long-legged fawns now, but they still look like wobbly babies. All of a sudden, the goldfinches are gold no more. The virginia creeper climbs like a scarlet flame up the trunks of trees and every gust of wind looks like a parade in your honor.

AJ loves fall too. Every day this week, he has come home from school asking whether there are enough leaves in the grass to make a pile for jumping. Every day the answer is the same: “Not yet, but soon!” A pile of fall treasures on the front porch grows daily: colorful leaves, acorns (often pilfered later by the marauding chipmunks who live under the front porch), pine cones, and all sorts of interesting rocks. These serve as currency in the game of Town that AJ and his friends play. AJ is both the chief of police and also the official town robber. He is wildly successful and never, ever gets caught. He has more treasure than any of them. “Because no one suspects the policeman.”

A few treasures have found their way into the house. I open a wood box my brother sent me from Morocco a few years ago and find it rattling with acorns. There is a blue jay feather on the bookshelf and a hickory nut plugging the top of an old vinegar bottle that serves as a vase. And amazingly, an enormous pink and white conch shell, which inexplicably appeared in our yard a few days ago, is washed and gleaming on top of a pile of magazines on the coffee table.

We are forever bringing the outside in here at Spy Headquarters. It is a family failing year round, but fall is the best time for collecting.

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And now, for a complete non sequitur, the Muppets take on Mad Men:

5 Comments leave one →
  1. crankygirl permalink
    October 1, 2009 2:14 pm

    My apartment is FINALLY livable without fans or AC. That’s why I love October. Hallelujah.

  2. October 1, 2009 3:39 pm

    AJ plays Town!!!

  3. freshhell permalink
    October 1, 2009 3:47 pm

    Somebody turned on the heat the other night which must mean it’s getting cold at night. This reminds me I need to find some good apples and make a cake. Our tree is not producing this year so no homemade applesauce.

  4. October 1, 2009 4:35 pm

    It’s not quite the same as Harriet’s Town, but it’s close enough that I call it that (he calls it something else, but I secretly know he got the idea from Harriet when we read it a few years back. He has forgotten that part). Cranky, that is indeed one of the best things about October. Although here, it came early this year. We only used the AC I think 3 days this summer. And freshhell, we are overdue to go apple picking. I may hit up a seldom-frequented forest preserve that used to be an apple orchard that is often a good spot for some windfalls. I would love to have an apple tree in my yard, but I’m not sure it would like the damp and the shade.

  5. readersguide permalink
    October 2, 2009 2:08 am

    Hooray for fall!

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