I always think of October as “the golden month,” probably because of the quality of sunlight. It changes to a mellow radiance that, combined with the wide blue skies of the prairie, makes me very happy. Some of you are lucky enough to live where the trees are turning color. Here, where we probably won’t have a frost for another month, when a tree turns yellow in October we have to wonder, is it turning … or dying from heat and drought?
I grew up in a southern state with bounteous rainfall. I had woods to play in as a child, and my favorite trees in autumn were hickories because they turned bright yellow and white oaks because their leaves turned scarlet. Then there were the little pops of orange from sassafras saplings–how I loved to snap off a twig and chew on the flavorful bark–and the bright red of sumac.
Around here, I get my fall tree fix from driving through some of the older neighborhoods where folks have planted non-indigenous trees and nourished/pampered them through sometimes brutal climate into stately monarchs of the boulevard. Instead of hickory trees, there are ginkos to provide bright yellow. Instead of white oaks, there are the massive, spreading shumard oaks that offer a dark, rich crimson. Good enough!
My biggest regret about October is that I miss so many days outdoors due to being locked inside at work. (And, no, my boss doesn’t incarcerate me. It just feels that way!) Still, there are evenings and weekends to savor as much of the glory as I can.
The cooler temps bring on the last big flush from the roses and raise my energy level. I can’t help but see my surroundings with fresh eyes.
The weather change also starts my creative juices flowing. My brain is teeming with book ideas–at least six on the burner right now, ready for me to choose one and start developing a plot from it.
I’m also fired up about landscaping. There’s the barren spot left behind by my beloved Linda Campbell rose bush. I want to plant spring bulbs, but it’s too early here. November is the best time for me to plant tulips since at present the ground is still too warm. (It’s always a gray day in late November, when the wind is howling at near-gale force, my nose is frozen, and I ask myself with every jab of my trowel what was I thinking to order an extra bag of daffodils.)
Still, while I wait for colder weather, I can’t resist doing something in the dirt. Yesterday I bought pansies and coneflowers. Anything at this point to take the space away from the milkweed and dock that persist in claiming Linda C’s spot.
Beyond my ideas for gardening and decorating the front porch–yes, I’m searching for a grand but cheap pumpkin–I’m thinking ahead to Christmas. It’s time to pull out the tubs containing all the stuff I bought last year at 90 percent off and create those garlands I saw in a magazine. Yesterday I found white wreaths at Michael’s, which means I don’t have to buy a green one and spray paint it white. Hurray! I want it to make a 4th of July wreath for next summer. As for Halloween, which is fast approaching, somewhere I’ve stashed a handful of craft paint bottles–their colors carefully chosen for painting a plaster skull in hues of mold and decay. Granted, I could have spent $5 and purchased a Styrofoam skull already looking grungy and creepy, but it’s not as much fun as painting one myself. If only I could find the paint! And where is that dratted skull? Probably tucked away in a box in the guest room.
About three years ago, I stumbled upon a vast architectural table at a garage sale, managed to drag it home in a borrowed pickup, and installed it in my garage to use as a work table for sewing and creative projects. Of course, in my home any horizontal surface becomes piled with all sorts of objects–including stacks and heaps of books. At the moment, there isn’t even a corner of this table clear for use. But I need it, which means either holding a garage sale of my own or scrounging boxes and filling them up. Because, besides painting, scattering glitter, and sniping florist wire, I need to make curtain valances for several of my windows and this surface is large enough for cutting out fabric.
How many years have I now lived in this house, and the windows still aren’t dressed beyond utilitarian blinds?
If all of this sounds deranged, it’s only the way creative minds work. The process of making something is so appealing that it’s easy to forget a simpler, quicker solution is waiting in a store to be purchased, slapped in place, and done.
But what’s the fun in that?
However, by the time I tackle even a fourth of all these projects–realistically perhaps only an eighth of them–when will there be time to write?
Ah … but you see, these wonderful projects–from landscaping to sewing–are simply ways to allow my imagination free rein. It needs to play so that it will willingly serve up good ideas for the manuscript page. I know writers who make collages or dabble in mixed-media art for the same purpose. When creative juices are flowing elsewhere than the computer keyboard, the imagination blossoms. And then you can channel it productively once more toward plot ideas and lively characters.
Which means there’s a good chance that the plastic tubs holding my Christmas garland-making supplies will probably stay where they are for yet another year. But ssh! We won’t let my imagination know that yet.