If you were to look at my birth certificate, you'd note the date of July 16th, which would be correct. However, Mom's pregnancy was a fairly typical one, so the spark that would eventually give rise to the man I am today entered this world nine months before.
I would argue that my passions and artistic leanings, even much of my mood and character, best fit that month resting amid the latest turning of seasons, at least as it manifests in this part of the country. When I was a child, I loved sledding and building snowmen as much as any other, and I've always treasured the months of nature's renewal and growth. Still, as I entered adulthood, I began to feel myself increasingly entranced by the unique character of October.
What do I love so much about this month, once again nearly upon me? First and foremost, it's the colors. Sight has always been the dominant sense for me, driving my creative impulses, at times even overwhelming me. Such being the case, October is very much a feast for my eyes. Browns, golds, russets, deep rich reds, all so wonderfully warm and spicy and comforting. Blues and purples soften in their company, and even the lingering leafy greens seem to take on the gentle spark of the waning sun.
Then there are the scents: the delicate tang of fallen leaves, the mouth-watering fragrance of apple cider and pumpkin pie, a hint of smoke from fireplaces reawakened. They all mingle to form a satisfying stew for my spirit.
Finally there is that to which I might apply the blanket term 'essence'. I'm speaking of the way I feel when a gust of air rattles the last few stubbornly clothed oaks, making them sing; the glow of a fading day, seeming to encompass me in a warm velvety blanket; the subtle flicker of a candle's flame tucked within a jack-o-lantern. Whatever this thing is, it is the source of the wistful yet heartened feeling I get only during that precious span of autumn days (sometimes a few will stray into November, to my continued delight and stubborn recognition - "Today feels more like Halloween!").
By now, some of you may wonder at my choice of title. It was deliberate, as I am fortunate that, due to the kindness of a friend, I know of a song that conveys my sentiments quite well, if perhaps too briefly.
Four years ago, I was conversing with this friend about the subjects of October and the old rock band Blue Öyster Cult, as he had long been a big fan of the latter. We went over some of their tunes, and I mentioned that “Don't Fear the Reaper” (for those who don't know, a Halloween staple) and “Burnin' For You” were my seasonal favorites, along with other songs of various genres. Having kept up with the band's more recent work, he asked me if I'd ever heard one in particular, a song he said was widely regarded as one of BÖC's best. I agreed to give it a listen, and instantly and completely fell in love with it.
The name of the song is “Harvest Moon”. It is cleverly constructed, a complete, haunting story told in the space of forty verses. What really makes it special for me, though, is that vocalist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser conveys emotion quite deeply and movingly, and at just the right points in the song. This is something I came to see was missing from those older songs I'd liked.
The chorus will, when my mood is right, make my hair stand on end, even evoke a tear or two:
“When the wind turns
“And blows the leaves from the trees
“I see the days grow shorter
“I feel the nights grow cold
“Young people feelin' restless
“Old people feelin' old
“I sense the darkness clearer
“I feel a presence here
“A change in the weather
“I love this time of year”
When I listen to this song, I really do believe that Mr. Roeser shares my heartfelt feelings about the season of golden leaves and light. I most certainly do love this time of year, more than I can ever fully express.