October is the pause between breaths. That still space where awareness will enter if you let it. The harvest is in, but a few weeks remain until the celebration of the year’s end at Halloween. October brings a taste of the darkness to come. Mornings are haloes of misty light and frosted breaths in navy darkness. But the days dawn brightly, reminding us that we haven’t yet reached the point of no return, that journey into the underworld where we’ll stay until the winter solstice.
October is a skein of geese rising and falling like musical notes on a page as they come in to land for the night. It’s a sandstorm whipping across an empty beach. A windfall of sweet chestnuts, bursting from spiny cocoons. Opulent berries studding leafless branches.
I find myself in an acquisitive state of mind. Not for things but for ideas. Gathering. Reading half a dozen books at once, dipping in and out as the mood takes me. My reading is eclectic: trees, prehistory, festivals, bees. I make notes, I underline, I follow a line of enquiry into something else. At some point all this information I’ve gathered will shape itself into my dreams and passions for the coming year.
When we consider our ancient ancestors, there’s usually an emphasis on hunting as the means to survival. In fact, gathering is likely to have been just as important, if not more so, in keeping them alive. Foraging for fruit, seeds and other resources supplemented their diet and was the only means of sustenance when no meat was available. As a writer, there’s a time to ‘hunt’ a particular quarry for a specific purpose. But, for me, now is the time to ‘gather’. It’s in this way that I make new discoveries and forge new connections. The purpose is never clear when I begin, but will eventually become so.
And then, sweet serendipity. A particular idea or theme will keep occurring. I’ll read a book on a subject and suddenly that subject is everywhere. Ideas that have always resonated suddenly gain new meaning. Already, I’m beginning to notice things that may become themes for the coming year. The pause before the year ends and I embrace introspection is an appropriate time to soak up ideas from around me that will take shape in the darkness. And in the depths of midwinter, the pattern for a new year will be born.