October may be my favorite month. Its brisk chill warms my soul.
I go bonkers over sappy songs about falling leaves. I grow giddy over the first log that crackles in a hearth. I like to wear khakis and Shetland sweaters and country walking shoes. I like to scruff through city parks or village lanes, kicking garlands of dry russet leaves.
Vermont is a field day for such pleasures. The old territorial courthouse lawn in mile-high Prescott, Ariz., is another heap of fun.
October even brings a mood of relative calm to Southern California.
Beaches and coves are abandoned by the throngs of summer and left to those lucky enough to live nearby, those who like to rise on a haze-free morning and put on khakis and Shetland sweaters and stroll barefoot on hard-packed sand, slinging tennis shoes or country walkers over a shoulder for the hike home.
October in the Dolomites of northern Italy is as dazzling as a Roman masquerade; jagged blue mountains near Nova Levante are sequined with leaves of scarlet and gold.
The Rockies are bewitching--even from the windows of a jet--as the green coins of aspen turn to burnished copper. To drive through historic Park City, Utah, and on to the elegant aerie of Deer Valley is to see flaming foliage at its Western best, before the slopes are bundled in white for prime skiing.
European cities let their hair down as the weather cools. They get back to the cosmopolitan business of enjoying themselves . . . and their restaurants and parks and universities.
Symphony orchestras tune up, and so do the horns of fox hunts. Theaters are fresh with new performances as the artistic world gets its act together for another season.
New Views Unveiled
In London and Paris, in New York and Montreal, the familiar profiles of cathedrals and monuments begin to loom through barren branches, revealing views that were veiled for months behind the swagged green drapery of chestnut trees and lindens.
In Poland, in Norway, in the Tetons and Cascades, forests of slim white birch are swept free of leaves. Their sculptured posturing and long shadows draw out photographers and painters.
October brings those moments of sporty confrontation when the best of baseball meets the best of football like a high tide crushing into an ebb. It is frothy stuff.
Travelers fade from family reunions to get to a Big Game, or to a Big Screen to watch a Big Game. Alumni follow college teams to small towns they would not consider visiting, except for a chance to savor victory on the gridiron.
That might all seem mad to me, except that I carried a short-wave radio to the top deck of a ship off the China coast one October to listen for World Series scores.
October means stacks of giant pumpkins and the joy of Halloween. It means Oktoberfest in towns that have not already rolled out their beer barrels in September. It is an aromatic season of harvest and crush in vineyards from the Napa Valley to Provence.
October is a keen time for apples and cider and cobalt blue skies, for weather cool enough to put cassoulet back on the menus of French cafes, and raclette on the dining lists of Switzerland. In Japan the march of autumn colors, moving south down the ridges from Hokkaido to Kyushu, is reported with verve on the nightly news.
And all the while, with another brush, October is daubing the Southern Hemisphere with the sweet pastels of spring.
I like October because it has a sense of humor.