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October in North Dakota

October 8, 2003

If there is any one month that is quintessentially North Dakota, it is October. The month itself is a study in contrasts. The nights dip below freezing, but the days can still see 80 degrees. Most of the flowers have frozen, which only serves to emphasize the few hardy plants that stubbornly remain, and makes us appreciate and admire them even more. The harvested wheat fields are a tidy golden stubble but the sunflower fields are a scraggly, dirty brown. But the sky is incredibly blue. The leaves donít linger long once they begin to turn, but that allows us to rediscover the beauty of a spider web tracing of tree branches silhouetted against a deep blue, cloudless sky.

October means we are forced to admit winter is coming. October is a busy month. There are leaves to be rakedÖand rakedÖand raked. There are gardens to clean out. There are storm windows to put up, heat tapes to plug in, hoses to drain and put away, a general inspection to make sure that nothing is left out that needs to be protected from the elements.

But at the same time we are preparing to burrow in to face the winter, we are also planning for a season of rest. Projects that were abandoned in the busyness of spring yardwork and gardening begin to reappear, as the days become shorter and the evenings become longer and colder. Itís time to sit and work on crafts in the evenings again, sometimes over a cup of hot cocoa. 

I am not looking forward to months of short cold days and long bitterly cold nights. But I am not particularly dreading it, either. Right now I am not thinking about it that much at all. Iím enjoying the here and nowóOctober. I suppose there is a lesson here, if you will. August was a miserably hot month and Iím glad itís past. September was a glorious month, and I wish it could have lasted forever. And now it is October. I could be dreading November and the bitter cold, but I would rather enjoy today than think about tomorrow. Because itís still October, and it will be for awhile. And I plan to savor it. Winter will come soon enough!