THE LAWSON’S PEAK BOOKS

October

All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken. Thomas Wolfe.

October, and the leaves are just beginning to turn. Brisk autumn breezes, cooler temperatures incite friskiness in the dog, and in the skies, birds are passing high above, bound for regions not found on any map.

I love this time of year. Especially October. It’s my favorite season. October is a season in and of itself. It is a time of change, of shifting.

I was born in October, it is my sign and my season. Along the bayou, the cypress needles are falling, and on the creek last weekend the pine needles and maple leaves gathered against snagged tree limbs and rocks in the stream, collected there like microcosms of October, saturated in deep, earthy colors. The air is heavy, laden with change.

This time of year, the old people come ‘round again, whisked through on a breeze, perhaps, riding the leading edge of the season maybe. They swirl through the old house like djin, unthreatening presences that live in an Indian man’s circular time, not the linear time imported by the West.

First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren’t rare. But there be bad and good, as the pirates say. – Ray Bradbury.

Suzie opens the doors to the world after a long, hot summer of being shut. The house flexes, breathes October into its bones.

In October, when darkness falls and the wind sings swirling sonnets along the eaves, dancing with the gables and romancing the pillars, the house stirs. As the mercury changes, the house moves, like an old man with creaking bones, and I listen to it find new comfort. Oak and cypress and fir slide against each other, grumbling, but at last it settles in to sleep, perchance to dream?

It does dream, sometimes. It dreams, as all living things must, to remain sane.

It dreams of the things it has seen, the people it has known. It dreams of children, their uncertain footsteps padding along its wood floors, knees scraping on the planks when they fell. It dreams of those same children, old and fragile, tenderly searching their way through the darkness at night with failing vision. It dreams of the things it has seen. Window-glass eyes, shuttered brows looked out on picnics and muscadine vines growing on long trellises. It saw sunlit gardens brimming with tomatoes and beans and corn; on murder and innocent blood; on fevers and pneumonia; on bedroom doors taken down from its innards, set upon potato crates to hold the dead while candles burn tobacco and cedar; it gazed, across the canvas of its life, upon the circles of those whom it held within, roof firm against the rain, walls solid against the wind, doors locked against fear.

Sometimes it moves in its sleep, reacts to its dreams, and a door opens or a stair tread creaks. Its dreams expand from it like a wave far out at sea, growing, until they crash down on me and scatter me across the beach, and I am left to search the sand for the pieces of myself, never quite finding them all.

But it opens its arms and welcomes old ghosts, warriors and carpenters, fishermen and construction workers. There are times, in October, when I believe all my relations are with me, all of them from back when there was no one here but Chitimacha and farther still, when there was nothing here but water.

It is the time of year when the margins are thin, the barriers that keep our world comfortable and orderly grow weak, bend, sometimes shear. October is like that. It resists our laws, defies our physics and laughs at our sense of security.

Think about how many times I have fallen

Spirits are using me

Larger voices calling –

(Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

That’s why I love October so dearly. It brings me closer to those who came before me.

The dogs know it. They are intent, watchful, keen eyes on the horizon. I don’t know what they’re seeing, or hearing or smelling through flaring nostrils, but I know it only comes in October. As Leon Hale wrote, “Watch the old dog. She’ll sense a change far earlier than we do. She’ll raise her head from a nap as if she’s been called, when no one has called her. She’ll go out in the side yard and point herself north and raise her nose and half-close her eyes and stand there a full minute, reading the air, finding out things, things that are far away and won’t happen for days.”

Ah! October! A magical month, heralding in a magical season. The world is winding down, nature is growing drowsy. The oldest trees are fast asleep already, and the youngest are fighting their slumber, like children do. My sycamores in the yard are whispering about autumn, but their words are slurring now, groggy.

I will spend as much time as I can in October. I hope to squeeze 40, maybe 50 days into it. I will spend it on my land, along the banks of a rocky, sandy creek, and through the cypress stands left in Grand Avoille Cove. I’ll breathe deep of October, because I am its native son.

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir: We must rise and follow her, When from every hill of flame She calls, and calls each vagabond by name. – William Bliss Carman

2 comments to October

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>