October is the 10th month on both the old Julian and newer Gregorian calendar. It is the first full month of Autumn where harvests are being done and in the old days people began to make ready for the coming of winter. The southern hemisphere though October is the first full month of spring. Harvest festivals are common at this time of year along with popular ones such as the German Oktoberfest.
Also for sports fans in the US you see the popular sports of basketball, American football, and baseball converge on the calendar. Football is kicking into gear, basketball is starting up and baseball enters its championship phase culminating with the World Series.
Of course the big day is Halloween on October 31st. Sadly it falls on a Thursday meaning kids have to be home early and back to school the next day. Halloween decorations are out there and of course scary movies are in demand again. October has as its flower the Calendula and the birthstone is the opal.
For those who watch the calendar, today marks the official end of summer and the beginning of autumn with the equinox today. It began today at 07:50 UTC (go here to see the time it began in your area). There are two equinoxes in the year: March and September. When these equinoxes occur the sun is directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is almost equal. In the Northern hemisphere, the September Equinox heralds autumn while in the South it is the beginning of spring.
For those of us in the North, it means a transition from summer to winter. During this period days start getting shorter and nights longer. Depending on where you live, you will likely have moderate warm days followed by long and cooler nights. Harvests of many crops often take place during the fall and in the old days you would make preparations to store food for the winter. Harvest festivals are very popular and in particular Halloween. Pumpkins begin appearing along with all kinds of Halloween decor culminating, of course, in All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31.
September has arrived and Labor Day tomorrow in the U.S. Summer is not officially over but is for all intents and purposes. Schools have already started around where I live, bus schedules now reflect school stops. Already some trees are starting to drop leaves. Halloween decorations, costumes, and candy are showing up in stores. I guess it is never too early to buy candy for Halloween. For retailers the last of the summer retail sales are underway. They need to clear space for autumn, Halloween, and Christmas.
The days are starting to get shorter now. Each day has the sun coming up just a bit later and setting earlier. In some places the weather starts changing as well. Still warm and pleasant days in many cases but nights start getting cooler. Suddenly those sweaters and jackets neatly stowed away are now being brought out of storage and made ready. Alas the summer wear not goes into storage.
Out here we tend to get more warmer weather due to winds shifting from the hotter inland regions in Arizona and the California Central Valley. September and October are considered good months to visit San Francisco since there is less fog. But you can be caught short when the fog makes a surprise visit in the afternoon. Many a tourist is caught shivering in their shorts.
For baseball fans, it is a time when the playoffs firm up. American football is now gearing up so fans are getting ready for an exciting season there. Of course if you are waiting for your favorite show to come back from summer hiatus, the wait is not long. Happy Sunday everyone and welcome (almost) to autumn.
Now that autumn has arrived, we are seeing the fall colors appear. Leaves start changing color and chilly nights are becoming the norm in many places (except those who have a summer-in-fall climate like in the San Francisco Bay Area). And of course Halloween is not that far away now. Already retailers are unpacking their Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and will appear just before All Hallows Eve.
Have a nice Sunday everyone.
Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, I recently realized, is an underrated gem. Wandering through my local library one recent Saturday, I noticed the book on the science fiction/fantasy shelf. I realized never read this book and checked it out. I wish I had read the book sooner as the story is compelling and scary. A perfect book for autumn and for Halloween.
The story is told primarily from the point of view of two 13 year-old boys, Jim Nightshade and William Halloway. They are in the cusp of leaving childhood and forever changed when Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show comes to town in autumn. It is unusual for a carnival to come so late in the year and the boys are excited. It comes when everyone is asleep at 3am in the morning but the boys watch it set up and are excited about it. As the story progresses though, it becomes clear the carnival is not at all what it seems to be. They see their teacher, Miss Foley, come out of the Mirror Maze in a panic. And later they see Mr. Cooger turned into a 12 year-old boy by riding the carousel backwards. Cooger then insinuates himself into Miss Foley’s house as a relative. Later when Cooger ages back on the carousel, Jim wants to hop on but Will accidently hits the breaker. The carousel spins out of control and Cooger grows very old. Ultimately he becomes a new act for the carnival when the boys return with the police, Mr. Electrico. Mr. Dark, aka the Illustrated Man for the many tattoos on his boy of the souls he has taken, realizes the two boys are a serious threat that must be dealt with.
The carnival is a façade, designed to ensnare the unwary to become either servants for Dark or to send them back home more miserable than before. Dark and his cohorts are the Autumn People. For them the calendar goes from September to October and stops after Halloween. They are locked perpetually in that world, much like a vampire is, neither going forward nor backward. Autumn, since it is the transition from summer to winter, is a melancholy period of leaves falling, cooler evenings and other things. And the Autumn People thrive during this period finding people who have lost the joy of living and replaced it with fears, guilt, and misery. Charles Holloway, Will’s father, is sad at being too old to play with his son. And he fears death. Those fears and many more draw Dark and his carnival to their dark harvest.
Dark seems to have all the power at his disposal as all evil villains do. He manages to capture the boys and nearly brings about Charles’ death until he realizes the one true power that will defeat Dark and his people: joy. It is interesting that in this battle between good and evil that it comes down to something simple. There is no waving of swords, chanting of magical phrases. Instead Charles realizes that the simple love he shares with his son gives him power over Dark. And once they realize he has that power, it truly frightens them. For it is the one thing that can truly kill them. Joy, laughter, happiness are the weapons against evil here and it shatters Dark and his carnival. Dark is killed by simple affection in the end.
The depiction of good versus evil is focused not on the spiritual but on how we allow our self-perceptions blind us to the joys of life. If we allow our miseries to cloud our outlook, it can blind us to the real evils that come knocking on our door. The lightning rod salesman wanted to meet a beautiful woman. He did and got turned into a dwarf to serve in the carnival with no memories of what he once was. Miss Foley was seduced by Cooger’s promise of youth that she failed to see he was not her nephew at all. Enjoying simple everyday joys counteract the bad things we have in our life.
With its skillful combination of fantasy and horror, this book is considered at the top of many horror lists. Ray Bradbury wrote a lot of books, many of them in the science fiction genre, but also wrote others outside of those parameters. It was made into a Disney film in 1983 and one of the rare dark movies made by them. While it differs in some ways from his book (Bradbury was involved with the movie), it gets the setting right and the basic story is there. The book though is far superior to it and recommended reading when you want a genuine spooky book that will entertain and delight. Unlike Stephen King, who frequently lambasts small towns in his books, the small town setting is exactly the right place for this story. And its story of good versus evil has never gone out of style.
The Autumnal or September Equinox occurred yesterday. There are two equinoxes in the year: March and September. When these equinoxes occur the sun is directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is almost equal. In the Northern hemisphere, the September Equinox heralds autumn while in the South it is the beginning of spring.
For those of us in the North, it means a transition from summer to winter during this period. Days start getting shorter and nights longer. Depending on where you live, you will likely have moderate warm days followed by long and cooler nights. Harvests of many crops often take place during the fall and in the old days you would make preparations to store food for the winter. Harvest festivals are very popular and in particular Halloween. Pumpkins begin appearing along with all kinds of Halloween decor culminating, of course, in All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31.