I never liked October.
When I was growing up in Texas, fall was not a full-fledged season. It was a nominal gap, wedged between the extended summer and Thanksgiving, serving only to offer a belated chill to football weather.
In my young world, there were two kinds of leaves—green and brown. Mother Nature wasn’t afforded the temperature nor the time to awe southerners with the same dazzling colors that adorned a northern October. The fall trees in my own back yard didn’t remotely resemble those tiny torn pieces of ragged red, orange, and yellow construction paper neatly pasted onto a bare, cut-out tree. My elementary artwork had no bearing in reality.
During my later sojourns, I did occasionally experience the wondrous effects of climates with four distinct seasons. I discovered that scarecrows in cornfields are for real and fresh apple cider is to die for. I also saw for myself that autumn’s metamorphosis could be startlingly beautiful. Because I had to wait years to finally see it, the brilliance of an authentic fall seemed over-animated, like waking up in Oz after living in black and white.
When I crossed the threshold into the autumn of life, it was with the same droll fanfare as the crunch of dry prairie grass under a cowboy boot. I never liked October anyway, and I certainly didn’t like this one. After expecting to finally reach a season of reaping sentimental rewards, I instead faced the symbolic pictorial of a Texas autumn. The remnants of a marital lifetime that was once was lush and growing had withered and fluttered aimlessly to the ground in grievous disarray. That resulted in a midlife divorce plopping me flat on my back, squarely into the middle of that pile of dead, fallen leaves.
From that coarsely pillowed spot on the ground, I had nowhere to look but up. Then, I was caught up in one of those tornado-like mental whirlwinds, where past events and familiar faces spin around until they converge to create one picture that’s worth a thousand words.
I arose from my sleepy-eyed daze to find myself living in a different kind of October. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. I was still the same woman and I hadn’t gotten any younger, yet it felt like a timeless moment. The once willowy branches of my pillaged dreams were now bursting with bright and varied colors, boasting their bold artistry. The sights and sounds of an autumn harvest overtook my heart in sweet anticipation. I knew it was coming. No. I knew it was here.
That’s when I fell in love. Not with a clumsy cardboard depiction, but with the full-seasoned experience waiting in my October. I had to see the hidden potential in the autumn of life before I could believe the beauty of the benefits.
I remembered how those Texas autumns tiptoed between summer and winter like a boring intermission. Then I recalled those few times I was privileged to see autumn at its golden best. I knew wholeheartedly that as a woman in her third season, my own October deserved a big spotlight on a glorious stage, flaunting that generous bounty and entirely lovely cascade of accoutrements.
Now I can only embrace all that October can be…and will be. Autumn has become my favorite time of year, because it represents all the richness life can bring. I love my October. It is my season of hope, and I have faith that it will also bring a time of abundant love.