It’s dark this morning as I’m writing. The dawn doesn’t come until later and later, punctuated each morning by the sounds of low-flying geese swooping over the pond. I cannot help but think of Emily’s poem titled by Mabel “Autumn,” known now by its first line: “The morns are meeker than they were” (poem 12 in Johnson, 32 in Franklin). Mabel and Thomas Wentworth Higginson first published this poem in the first volume of poetry in 1890. It’s a remarkable poem. We know summer is gone because “the rose is out of town” and that the season has changed dramatically because “the maple wears a gayer scarf.”
So yes, it’s October: the month that Emily, Mabel and Millicent all celebrated in their writing. It’s the month that Emily’s childhood friend, the poet Helen Hunt Jackson, once wrote was her favorite month of year, albeit the most poignant, because so many of the most important events of her life occurred during it (she was born in October, her first husband died in October, she married her second husband in October). In one of several odes to the month Jackson wrote:
“Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.”
I, too, have always loved this month. My childhood memories are filled with the requisite trip to the iconic Martin Viette Nursery on Long Island (now closed), where my brothers and I would get to pick out pumpkins, eat candied apples and go on a hayride around the property. When my own children were young, this month would include a trip to Arena Farms in Concord (also now closed!) to do the same activities that were such a memorable part of my own childhood. October meant apple picking at other local farms, spending a lot of the month creating Halloween decorations to tape around the front door, and assembling interesting costumes (two of my personal favorites: my daughter going trick or treating as Gloria Steinem and one of my sons parading around as an early, boxy Mac computer – inside a box!) Living in New England, October has also meant glorious sugar maple splendor, plentiful crisp apples and increasingly cool nights.
So like Emily, like Mabel, like Millicent, like Helen, I, too, have long loved the month of October.
And of course, this year I have another reason to celebrate the calendar’s shift to October: this will be the month that After Emily is released! To celebrate the month, I think I will do as she, herself, suggested, “and symbolically “…put a trinket on”!