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OPINION: Bring on the best of the best

Except for the fact that it brings us 30 days closer to winter, October in South Dakota is the perfect month. And even with winter not far behind, October, most years, anyway, is about as close to perfect as a month can get. What's winter, anyway...

Terry Woster
Terry Woster
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Except for the fact that it brings us 30 days closer to winter, October in South Dakota is the perfect month.

And even with winter not far behind, October, most years, anyway, is about as close to perfect as a month can get. What's winter, anyway, besides an opportunity to test ourselves against cold, snow, wind and ice so we'll be in the mood for the generally milder if whimsical nature of the spring to follow. And we'd have neither the test nor the whimsy without October.

October starts Monday, a flip of the calendar page away. I'd be jumping for joy, except that October is less a time of boundless joy than of calm reflection. The weather and colors and scents encourage contemplation of life and landscape, preferably over a fresh cup of coffee on a patio with a south exposure and a view of water, trees and a high-cloud sky.

Winter is a season best viewed from behind the glass of a picture window. Summer? That's the season for sun and fun, the "lazy, hazy, crazy days" about which Nat King Cole sang many years ago. Spring, of course, is for walking in new grass with raindrops from a gentle shower dripping off emerging leaves of trees wakening from winter's sleep. Those are all great seasons, but for me autumn is the best. October, then, is the best of the best.

I very much enjoyed this past summer. I will confess I felt a bit of sadness when school started at the end of August, because Nancy and I had spent a fair amount of time with our 10-year-old granddaughter. It wasn't as much as we'd have liked, but it was more than many grandparents get. A guy learns to be grateful for that time and not think it wasn't enough. Gratitude. It's all about the attitude, as some folks say in a club to which I belong.

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So I'm grateful for June and July and August, but I'm ready for October. September is sort of a transition month, too hot some days, too wet other days, too windy too often. Besides, it's when schools get in full swing, sending at least a symbolic message that playtime is over for another year. Just yesterday I pulled my boat from the water. The nights haven't reached freezing yet, but the days grow shorter and shorter, so it won't be long.

The shorter days of October help create the mood that makes it my favorite month. The sun rides lower in the sky, and the colors of the leaves turn brown and gold and yellow, with a little red mixed in here and there. The lawns collect those leaves and the fields are rust and gold and tan. Even as the earth begins to cool, the sun's slanting rays strike those earth-toned fields in a way that makes everything seem warmer than it really is.

I recall an October from my first college year when I brought a friend home from Creighton in Omaha to hunt pheasants on the opener. I'm sure we had a good time and probably a good hunt, but what I remember was how, on the drive back with my dad, we stopped at a stand along a two-lane road through a small Iowa town and drank chilled apple cider. A wasp buzzed around, bumping into the awning that covered the stand. My dad took a sip of cider, sighed and said, "Maybe there have been better days, but I can't remember when."

I love those warm, buzzing-wasp October afternoons.

Oddly, I also love chilly, rainy October days when the wasps know better than to be out, when a random spider crawls slowly up the leg of a patio chair, when the breeze sends me digging through the closet for a hoodie. With that added layer of clothing, I'm comfortable as I walk along the street, watching the wind tease leaves from the trees and toss them into the gutter in clumps that turn soggy and rusty and slide down into the storm drain

Maybe that sounds like a foul afternoon, but it's just another side of October.

Related Topics: WEATHERTERRY WOSTER
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