A friend complained recently, "it's so weird to have these forty-degree swings in temperature in one day." She's right: it's cool first thing in the morning and roasting-hot from noon on. But that's not unusual, I said.
That's just October.
October is my jam.
Oh, October, my darling: it's true -- you're my favorite month of the year. No other time of year calls on us to integrate extremes in quite the same way, pulling on the cozy sweater in the brisk morning air, tearing it off, gasping, chugging ice water, as the temperatures soar just a few hours later.
Right now is the peak heat in the San Francisco Bay Area -- the last (and for some, only) blast of summer coexisting for a sweet moment with the hint of the coming winter. The light this time of year is the best, exquisite.
It's the Golden Time.
It's hot as hell and yet this is no time to lie about. This is the time that calls for being in the kitchen, in clouds of steam and sweat, canning the bounty of our gardens. That calls for running the oven, roasting peppers and squash. For celebrating and savoring the fruits of the great heat, by putting them up against the promise of darkness to come.
It’s a time for work, big work, that calls for many hands, that makes me wish for a farm-big family of enthusiastic helpers. Someone to set the ladder up just-so and climb and get the topmost apples that I can’t reach. Someone to help me smoke the bees in the mid-day heat, sweat running down my back inside my bee-jacket, to help lift off honey-heavy frames for harvest.
It's a time to muster, to hold two different thoughts at the same time, to maintain equanimity even as everything begins to shift.
That's why I love you so much, October: 'cause, really, you're about wisdom. For what is wisdom but standing in that golden time of Both And?
It's possible, too, that I love you so much because I’m in my October time of life – still illuminated by the sun and heat of youth, with that glimmer of cool old age off ahead, so close I can sometimes catch a whiff, hear it crunch underfoot.
Whatever: October, you're delicious. The smell of apples in the air, leaves falling. I look longingly at my sweater all while willing the heat to last long enough to ripen the tomatoes still on the vine, to grow the eggplants a bit larger, to coax a little more sustenance from the soil.
Delicious, golden, crisp October: I'm staying busy, doing my work and savoring every moment of this light, this heat, while they last, enjoying you, my favorite month, my jam.