It’s the cliche of the season, I know, but I have to agree with Anne Shirley: I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

It’s no secret to anyone who reads here that I am not a woman who was made for hot summers. Not only am I a west coast Canadian, most at home caught between the ocean and the mountains, I am Canadian by way of the northern tip isles of Scotland and the grey middles of England. I’m freckled and pale. My ancestors made it clear: I was made for cardigans and moccasins, for cool evenings and the bite in the air.

Yet I’m not much for the big rituals of autumn; for instance, the epic outings with perfectly staged photos. I think they’re lovely, they’re just not my focus, I guess. We’re not into Halloween and you won’t ever catch me doing more for dress-up than stopping at the pop-up-shop in town and stuffing three $10 costumes that will suffice for the school costume parade into the shopping cart. I’m not pinning gold-dipped pumpkins and, much as I enjoy crafting, I don’t have much time for it these days so there aren’t any homemade wreaths. Sure, we’ll do the pumpkin patch thing and the apple orchard, no doubt, and we’ll trot around the neighbourhood in mass-produced costumes that shouldn’t be left near an open flame gathering candy in last year’s Halloween buckets like we do every year but those aren’t the moments of October I savour. Not really.

For me, the gift of October is in the light of the days, the last gracious light of this turn around the sun. It’s the golden glow of our moments as they fade away into the cool darkness, earlier and earlier. It’s the smell of dead leaves after a soaking rain. It’s standing outside in the changing woods, still, watching the leaves pirouette down in sheets during a gust of wind. It’s the vibrant colours – bright gold of the aspens, the red of oak and maple trees lining the boulevards and the playgrounds, the orange of beech, even the maroon of the overlooked ones. Perhaps it’s because these colours stand in perfect relief again the deep blue of the afternoon light. The blue of a sun-filled autumn afternoon – now there’s the argument for the restoration of creation.

Crisp mornings, sharp like a tart apple, wake me up from the stupor of summer. The air crackles with ideas and renewal, this should be the true start of the year, we come alive again.

It’s the way we gather in the autumn, too. Today in fact, our tables are set. We make the turkeys the way that our mothers made their turkeys, thumb through cookbooks with dog-eared pages, bake our goodies off of recipe cards made translucent with buttery fingers over the years. I like to consider myself a pretty good cook but I met my Waterloo in pie crust: it keeps me humble. So I buy my pies, proud in my common sense.

It’s the sound of children outside, and the old games that never seem to go away – tag, hide and seek, freeze tag. It’s school days and backpacks filled with Roald Dahl books and packed peanut-free lunches.

October’s true delights are in the small homebody rituals though. Lighting candles, full pots of tea with steam curling upwards from the new autumn blends from David’s Tea in old pots covered with hand knit tea cosies, comfort baking, pots of soup, draped scarves around our necks, revisiting the novels we have read a dozen times already just because we know we love them, sweaters on my knitting needles and old movies on rainy afternoons, dark and slow mornings, red lipstick stains on coffee mugs.

homebodies

Print by Be Small Studios. Available here.

I’ve learned one secret of happiness, perhaps – be easily pleased. I’m easily pleased by small things, by lovely things, by beautiful things, ridiculous and simple things perhaps, but I’m happy in these days and so it’s enough.

October feels like a woman who knows her age and rests comfortable in that knowledge, like the woman I want to be someday. Bearing her years like a crown, beautiful but in her own beauty not the borrowed or contrived beauty of past seasons, wise and patient, crisp and alive, a bit tart but restful. October feels kind and strong in equal measure.

 

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  • Sigh. This is beautiful. Perfect reading for a chilly, wet Pacific Northwest October morning. Thank you.

  • Brittany

    This is absolutely perfect. Beautifully written, & I share your feelings 100%!

  • wendy

    I can say from the true grey middle of England, fresh inside from a weekend of clearing soggy weeds and rotting leaves, that you captured the spirit of the season beautifully 🙂

  • Diana Crump

    Yes and yes.

  • Larry

    Read this to my wife. Your writing is a gift. Thank you.

  • Sara Rooney

    Gorgeous and jealous. It’s 95 deg F and dry dry dry here in northern California… Would welcome a fall like what you’ve described! 🙂

  • Valerie

    I love this so much. I agree with every single word you wrote. Beautiful Sarah.

  • Jenny

    Well said, as always. Being easily pleased is always a blessing and always in season. But October, with all the things you mentioned, shines so bright even the not easily pleased seem to take note.

  • Bekah Harmon

    October for me has always been a welcome old friend. It is Sweaters and scarves, which stubbornly still begin to wear in in California. It is crunching leaves and winter squash in Abundance. It’s the changing from summer to winter, the cooling of weather, the icy puddles in the morning and the too hot for jackets afternoons. It’s more hot tea and pumpkin pie.

    October is beloved. For it is somehow both family and warmth in an ever increasingly cool daily temperature.

  • KristenStrong

    Gracious, your prose is stunning ~ as usual.

    I am a lover of summers, but I do enjoy fall. And your words here make me love October all the more.

    Enjoy your season, pretty lady. Much love.

  • Amber wolf

    agreed. this is my favourite.

  • Laura B

    Beautiful. I heartily agree.

  • I have always loved fall. My birthday is fall, I was married in fall, new adventures in the fall. But three years ago, I was pregnant in fall and it ended the day after Christmas, and now the season feels a little spoiled. With the first scent of cold air, I feel the nausea of a ghost pregnancy. And I’m tired – physically and spiritually. Fall reminds me of endings rather than beginnings. But I trust that this feeling – too – is a season.

    So we share a love of both British literature and Anne with an “e” and that makes me think that maybe – just maybe I might like Doctor Who.

  • Melinda Cadwallader

    Tipping my cup of cinnamon spiced cider – complete with red lipstick stains. Bravo.

  • Tessa Dul

    I read (a summary of) research that supports this yesterday. It said that one of the major causes of the increase in depression is that we have too high expectations of how happy we should be and what that looks like (the book is called “The Depths” and is by Jonathan Rottenberg).

  • Amber

    I agree with Anne Shirely (and you) too!

  • Jeannette

    Amazing description of the change of our Canadian season – I’m an Ontarian through-and-through and my ancestry is entirely Dutch, but I ferl I could’ve written this. With you in Spirit, across the thousands of kilometres!

  • Lovely, Sarah. I am with you, and Anne.
    Thank you for putting it into words for me.

  • I just love this!

  • I have that Anne Shirley quote lettered on my chalkboard right now. Well, truth be told, I have half of it, because a certain five year old erased the bottom half to make room for a map of the house she’s drawing out. Thanks for including my print here, Sarah, and for the gift of these words. This was beautiful.

  • Rachel

    Big smiles as you describe these familiar feelings. A hearty amen over here!

  • This is my favorite post that I’ve read in a long time. Thank you, friend, for the moment of stillness and content and peace this morning.

  • emily

    I LOVE this! So beautiful.

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  • Thank you, love this, especially the last paragraph. A picture to be.