October has not been a good blogging month. In fact, I’m sort of been MIA.

But I’m still here and still writing…which is why I haven’t had a non-Twitter post up. Writing, and having an off-the-grid contemplation/research week, and baking birthday cakes, and reading.

October is like that for me. It’s the month when I draw breath.

I don’t know why fall is more magical for me than spring; possibly it has something to do with spring inevitably turning into summer, the three-month space during which we live in a wet superheated sponge and are repeatedly attacked by biting insects. Fall, in Virginia, turns into winter, which is only occasionally unpleasant. (Although we’re supposed to get weather patterns this year that will produce record ice storms, so I may have to eat those words.)

Or maybe it has to do with the fact that the month kicks off with the Virginia State Fair, which I’ve been going to since I was a 4-H’er in middle-school, and the Fair was the big event of my year. I still adore the State Fair. I love the way it smells: Italian sausages, cattle, sawdust and powdered-sugar drifts. I could spend hours examining farm equipment. I always come back from the State Fair with a burning desire to raise sheep.

Or maybe it has to do with death. (Bear with me.) Once you get to a certain age, there’s more poetry in fall than in spring. Fall is about passing and ending; it’s a wistful season, and what comes next is winter, harder frosts, bleaker ground, less life. But a long ways after (by which I mean April), there’s life again. Not the same life that you said goodbye to at the end of October; something that’s completely different than what you expected. Spring is all uncontrollable growth and unstoppable vitality. The kids adore it.

I like October.

In the fall I get absorbed by the quotidian; the daily details, the hour-by-hour responsibilities. The breakfasts and the stall-cleanings; the mornings verifying the exact location of medieval Iranian cities and the evenings spent walking the property line, posting PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO HUNTING OR YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED signs; the mulching and the meal-planning; even the math lessons and the SAT prep. In the spring, the quotidian annoys me. In the summer it exhausts me. In the winter, it depresses me.

In October, I think: The quotidian IS life, and for a brief time I’m enjoying it.

In my next post, I won’t get to say “quotidian” at all.

Showing 17 comments
  • Suzanne Bryan Brock

    Fall is definitely my favorite season, with October being my favorite month. I always liked it but I came to love it even more when I lived in southern California and it didn’t really exist. I never realized, with my first 23 years spent in Virginia where I took it for granted, that I both enjoyed and needed the death of winter so I could better appreciate the rebirth of spring. I love fall for every reason you listed.

  • Stephanie

    I really like you Susan. Thanks for keepin’ it real.

  • Sarah Park

    This was beautiful. And I agree completely.

  • Alia Macrina Heise

    We have sheep on the family farm, but I am not the sheep person (then again I don’t really like the State Fair either but I think that’s because taking a 3, 6 and 9 year old there is a suicide mission.) As far as sheep go, I like the babies, but don’t understand the fascination with ewes and rams are just ugly. But all in all sheep are interesting, in the sense of the whole shepherdess thing and you become they only person they trust because they are distrusting by nature. Also the novelty of them being flock animals is intriguing as well as incredibly frustrating. One sheep manages to get out of the fence and suddenly the rest insist on escaping as well, but as soon as you have one back IN the fence, suddenly the whole herd as the overwhelming desire to be back inside of it too. We’ve raised too many at one time for grass fed lamb which means we missed the midnight Pascha service at church because 3 in one night decided to give birth. Now the herd is smaller and they’re being raised as breeding stock which means you still get to see the babies but you don’t have to eat them. I like that best.

  • Sherry Early


  • Susan in TX

    With you 100%! I think its the shortening days that make me like routine more. We missed our state fair this year due to cross country meets and we REALLY missed it…may have to miss a meet next year. 🙂

  • Beth S.

    “Assimilated” is a nod to Star Trek fans of the world.
    In the Star Trek fictional universe, assimilation is the process by which the Borg (the ENEMY!) integrate beings and cultures into their collective. (quoted from Wikipedia).
    I had to look up “quotidian”= (roughly) the daily aspect of life.

  • Sarah

    Fall has always been my favorite time of year in southern Indiana. We really have some of the most delicious autumns of anywhere. Every year at this time, I have the deep desire to move to a neighboring county (Brown County known for their beautiful leaf foilage), quit working, and just be “one with the earth”. You know, bake, have a garden, raise some animals, and maybe even have more children. Then winter comes and I am ever so glad to be only 5 minutes from the grocery store or the local Starbucks. I guess you just cannot take the city out of this girl. Even in the city, when that first chill starts to hit the air and I can enjoy a fire in the fireplace, some homemade stew, and a good bottle of red wine, I feel lucky to have a little bit of heaven here on earth.

  • Ginger Myers

    In which I learn a new word!! Very nice, thanks.

  • Angela

    Fall is my favorite season as well, the smell, tastes, and sights are all so good and completely different from any other season. I love all your books and you an amazing writer!!! : ) I can’t wait until your next world history book comes out!

  • Angela

    *You *are* an amazing writer*

  • Christina

    You make the quotidian sound so beautiful. 🙂 I’m struggling with that these days. But trying not to.
    You also make me miss Virginia! Today was the first day that felt remotely like fall. Of course! It’s only almost November! haha

  • Janice in NJ

    Sheesh! Alright. 🙂 I’ll look it up.

    ……..Fun that. I think my October is the inverse of yours for all the same reasons. I’m guessing there’s a math equation in there somewhere, but I won’t dig it out. Although I suspect that it might be fun to figure out a way to integrate a Borg analogy into a negative exponent; they (it?) just breathe that sort of destructiveness in their growth patterns.

    THANKS for the Early Decision Blog on the other board. Struggling with that this morning.


  • Mary

    I loved reading this! My husband got a good chuckle when I told him about your no hunting signs!
    – Thought you might enjoy this quote from Lin Yutang…

    I like spring, but it is too
    young. I like summer, but
    it is too proud. So I like best
    of all autumn, because its
    leaves are a little yellow,
    its tone mellower,
    its colors richer, and it is
    tinged a little with sorrow.
    Its golden richness speaks not
    of the innocence of spring,
    nor of the power of summer,
    but of the mellowness and kindly
    wisdom of approaching age. It knows
    the limitations of life and is content.

    Lin Yutang

  • Lindsey

    The definition I found for “assimilated” meant…eaten?!
    Way to use those ten dollar words, Mrs. Bauer!

  • Ellen

    I love the word “quotidian.” I don’t use it enough, and I really should, since it effectively describes much of my life.

  • Carolyn

    I love the fall as well. I was married in the fall…and three of our children were born in the fall. Fall is intense, darker and more introspective. It is the ‘true’ end of the year as far as the seasons go. You have fall to ‘gather in’ and winter to contemplate and enjoy. Lovely post.

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