I love October. It’s my favorite month. Part of it could be that my birthday is in October—as is my sister’s and mother’s (we’re all within a week of each other, and mine is first). Part of it is Halloween, which is my second favorite holiday next to Christmas. And part of it is October heralds the start of three months of decorating, gathering and festivities, all leading to the most wonderful time of the year (yes, I sound like an Andy Williams song.)
But mostly it’s because growing up in New Jersey, October heralded the most beautiful weather and scenery. Brisk, sunny days where I’d don a leather jacket and a light scarf and go for a walk in a park (or the countryside in my childhood) among the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds of the maple leaves. Picking out the perfect pumpkin the first weekend of October, which would become a jack-o-lantern by the end of the month. Apple cider and hayrides. So many memories layered thick as apple pie.
Given how deeply Jersey fall has seeped into my bones, it’s hard for me to enjoy the season living on the Oregon Coast. The leaves don’t really change (we have mostly conifers and deciduous trees that don’t lose their leaves or do so very boringly). The weather is gorgeous here in October, but it’s not what I think of as fall. It’s cool and sunny, but rarely brisk. Our fall here heralds the rains, not the snow, so it’s very different. It’s probably the best weather we have, but it’s not what fall means to me.
I don’t think my husband fully realized how important true fall is to me until this year. He’s from Colorado, so fall is different still in his memory.
I think part of my problem is books. One thing I’ve noticed being from the New York area but not still living there is that books, particularly children’s books, seem to represent the seasons as I experienced them as a child. Like those from the Mid-Atlantic/New England states. Showy fall, snowy winter, flower-filled spring, hot summers with firefly dusks. Where I live now, we pull off the flower-filled spring (although it starts in late January), but that’s about it.
I miss seasons, but mostly I miss fall. Maybe it’s because my husband’s idea of winter and summer mirror mine: snowy and cold for the former, sunny and hot for the latter. So, we go to Sedona in July and Mt. Hood in December. But we never go somewhere fallish in October.
This year will be different, though. My daughter is now old enough to appreciate such things, so we’ll drive to find fall color. That is one of the amazing things about living in Oregon. You really can find whatever weather you’re looking for within the state’s boundaries. Although you can’t find fireflies (or lightning bugs, as I grew up calling them) no matter how hard you look. They just don’t really make it to the Pacific Northwest. But that’s a summer thing.
And while books leave me longing for the environs of my youth (and isn’t that part of what books are supposed to do?), they also allow me to give my daughter some of the same reference points I had. She’ll still grow up knowing about lightning bugs even though she won’t be chasing them in our own yard. She’ll still know that leaves change color in the fall and will discover why that happens. She knows all about snowmen even though we will likely never get enough snow here to make one larger than a Lilliputian.
And that is the magic of books. Memories for me. New experiences for her. A whole world at our fingertips. Yes, she can look these things up online or watch them on TV. But books. Well, books let her engage her imagination in such a wonderful way that no other medium can replicate it.
And new books are just one more thing to love about October.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.