October

October.

The last gasp of gorgeous before the cold and dark settles into my bones. Soon I will be perpetually cold. I will want to go inside before the sun sets. I will feel a chill as the long dark tunnel of winter approaches. Like a small child, I will want reassurance.

This morning I have things to do, but sip my coffee and stare out the window instead. One tree is changing color faster than the others. Don’t be in such a hurry, I want to tell it.

I am still clinging to summer. The tan lines from my bathing suit are quickly fading. I notice two small brown spots on my face where the sun has left its mark. I remember “Porcelana” on my mother’s side of the bathroom cabinet. “Fades Brown Spots,” I think it said. My mother’s side of the cabinet is sparse. That and a jar of Nivea.

You have to buy the Nivea made in Canada. Her beauty advice is simple. A jar of Nivea, Canadian made. I don’t know if my mother’s skin is soft. She doesn’t let me touch it. She slathers her Canadian-made Nivea on her face every morning. The thick white cream sits on top of the deep lines, never sinking in. She wipes the excess off with a tissue. It is a ritual in the cold months.

I look at the tree with the red and gold leaves. Don’t be in such a hurry.

I try to hold onto summer knowing it is futile. The farm stand is overflowing with apples and squash. The juicy peaches, the ruby red strawberries, all just a memory now.

I bought apples in New York last week. My favorite. My mother’s favorite. Macoun apples, they’re called. When we got home, I hoped my husband would choose one of the many Honeycrisp and not the one Macoun left in the bowl.

He chooses the Macoun apple. He agrees, it is very good. I know I will have to wait until I go back to New York to get more.

They don’t grow them here, the man at the farm stand tells me. It’s a New York State apple.

October is the last month before my fingers hurt. The joints in my fingers become stiff with the cold. You might have pretty hands one day. This is something my mother tells me when I am about twelve. She looks at me in parts, like a scientist.

She is wrong. She couldn’t know that the skin on my hands would grow paper thin by the time I am forty. The blue veins underneath make me appear older than I am. I do not have pretty hands.

October. My mother, middle aged and embarrassed, gives birth to her last child. A girl. An accident.

When I found out I was pregnant again, I just put my head down and cried,she confides in me.

That day in October my mother drives herself to the hospital, maybe crying then, too. I don’t know. She doesn’t say.

So much sadness around the birth of an October baby.

October is the last hurrah before the dark settles in.

It’s apple time. Macoun apples if I’m lucky.

It’s time for the thick white cream to soothe my thin, dry skin. I choose something else. Not Nivea.

It’s time to turn my face to the still warm October sun and practice, once again, letting go.