Night in the lonesome October
Dark falls early in the lonesome October. In my corner of the world the leaves are changing, some have already been glorious while others have just begun to turn. In the late afternoon, shadows grow and lengthen as the sun sinks lower in the Western sky. On clear days, the sunset colors have been glorious. The heat of the day fades with the light and somewhere on the wind, I catch the smell of burning leaves or woodsmoke.
As I write this, rain falls, bringing cooler temperatures.
Trees are shedding their fall harvest of walnut and hickory nuts.
Cooler weather inspires me to cook more. It's time to match a batch of chili using my dad's recipe, to bake apple pie or cake with this year's apples. I bake bread year round but somehow it's wonderful to inhale the aroma of fresh baked bread. Maybe I'll make stew or chicken and noodles or a pot roast.
Over the weekend I made pumpkin bread. The familiar aroma filled the kitchen and brought back memories from long ago when my mom baked it for holidays in coffee cans.
Although it's more than a week until Halloween, the spooky decorations abound around town. Local stores still carry decorations for the season along with candy and costumes.
Side by side are the autumn decorations, the faux leaves and Thanksgiving items and that's fine.
But the Christmas items are out as well, everywhere I go and that's rushing it.
With the current situation however, most are seeking something to celebrate, something bright and beautiful. Some are already putting up Christmas trees, some with a new Halloween or autumn theme, others decked for Christmas in full glory. Even one major retailer sent me an email stating "it's neer too early to decorate" for Christmas.
If that's someone's preference, then do it.
But for me, I've raged against starting the Christmas season early for years. I prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving to let that holiday stand and be celebrated in its' own stead. I usually wait until Advent - a countdown to Christmas - begins.
I plan to savor these remaining days of what Edgar Allen Poe called the lonesome October in his poem Ulalume.
Although fall is my favorite season and October ranks as one of my most beloved months, there can e a lonesome quality to it, the high sound of a train horn carrying across the distance, the geese honking as they depart south for the winter, the slow fall of leaves as the trees become stark branches for the winter season.
With social distancing remaining and less events to attend, many are lonely. I've worked at home for more than 7 months now and while that has some advantages - like I'm at my desk by 7 a.m. most days - there are no co-workers to swap stories or jokes with. When many meetings have become virtual, I can attend via the internet but there's no interaction.
Two weeks remain until the election and no matter which way voter lean, I think most are like me and will be relieved when it's over. The sad truth is no matter who wins at what level, there will be a group who rebels against that victory which will lead to further divide and dissension. In the worse case scenarios, there could be more protests and riots but I hope and pray not.
As we walk through these last days of October, let us walk with our heads up, savoring the good things in life and not accenting the negative.
There will be other Octobers but this one only happens once.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the editor of The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also an author.