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Column: October

It’s my time of year.
I’ve always liked October. For one thing, after months of Minnesota heat and humidity, blue jeans sticking to my legs, and sweat pouring off my bald head into my eyes, it is such a pleasure to walk out the door to meet a crisp morning. My default wardrobe is a long-sleeved shirt with the cuffs rolled up, and on many mornings in October that outfit clicks — rolling the cuffs down as I go out the door and back up as the autumn sun warms the air.
I like the kind of day where the sun is up at 7:30, the time reasonable people start thinking about going to work. There’s a certain amount of moderation in the sky. When the sun lights up my bedroom around 5:00 a.m., that just seems overeager. In January, when it doesn’t wander over the horizon until midmorning, it seems excessive, if not slovenly. But if I can go out the door around 7:00, with the rising sun at the same level as my eyes and my work boots crunching through a light frost, that’s a day I’m going to get a lot done.
I enjoy the season for other reasons, too. Like many people, my life can be somewhat complicated. Any given day can see me juggling half a dozen or more competing priorities. It’s stressful, looking ahead and feeling like everything on the horizon is important, with no way of getting it all done. It can lead to a type of paralysis, in which nothing is fully completed. But the prospect of winter, rushing toward me with the momentum of a freight train, shakes loose some of what matters from what doesn’t. Over the years, I’ve never felt stress from having a lot to do — what stresses me the most is when all the competing arenas of my life seek to claim equal attention. One year, we got 30 inches of snow on October 31. If you’ve lived through that once or twice, you tend to want to get things tidied up, just in case it happens again.
And of course, there’s the beauty. Spring may be about potential, but autumn is when everything reaches its peak, when the beauty and potential is distilled by the cool and crisp into scenery that can almost stop your breath. A morning glory blossom surrounded by fallen leaves, a giant dog leaning into you, sharing her thick, black sun-warmed hair, the first V’s of geese heading south and a startled whitetail doe bursting out of a yellow corn field. 
On such a day in October, surrounded by so much that is short-lived and beautiful, we shouldn’t take the time to embrace what’s ugly, not even in an election season. And the onrushing fall should serve to make us more conscious that there’s little time to waste, that we need to start doing what’s important.
Fall is my time of year; there’s a lot to do.
Copyright 2016 Brent Olson

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