Tuesday, October 11, 2011


October! Tobes!  I'm late. I feel like Rufus T. Firefly in that early scene in Duck Soup, when, waking in the monogrammed four-poster bed, he hears the distant chorus of "Hail! Hail! Freedonia!" and quickly sheds his nightgown for the tailcoat underneath, slides down the pole to the royal assemblage waiting for him one floor down, and takes his place among the sentries, brandishing his cigar for want of a sword.

Of course, thanks to YouTube, I can just show you here (start at the five-minute mark) , but I kind of enjoyed describing it. Which is a similar appeal of October—Tobes!

We throw our arms about each other in a brotherly hug. There's no other month I so enjoy describing, following around, back in Nature Reporter mode (press ticket in my fedora). But I'm tardy, it's already post-Columbus Day. Sorry, Tobes. Part of the problem was this lingering summah. It put October in an overwarm limbo, like the delayed autumn in Chris Van Allsburg's The Stranger, caused by the temporary amnesia of Jack Frost (never named, but who else would it be?). Even a querulous screech owl in the maple outside my window was whinnying its unease. A seldom-heard sound that immediately puts you inside a kind of medieval litho.

Then today, a return to normalcy. The sky is mapped with altocumulus clouds, the temp back in the orchardly sixties. Summah, I think, is sashaying back to Bermuda, or St. Pete, or wherever she goes. And olly oxen free! the rash is loose in the maples, the amber in the honey-locusts, and the fool moon, due tonite (I saw its dress rehearsal last night) wears a knowing look, a canny, lemme tell you a story look, a third of the way into the month this moon owns. This moon. This noble leotard. (You mean leopard) That's what I said. A leopard in a leotard. We tolerate much from this canny moon, because it's serious, but in a funny way. Is all about costume, candy, voyages, rocket boys (October sky), corn mazes, cider, sweaters, desperados, bumper cars, ostriches, okay now you're just getting silly, corn silk! punkin Dunkin' donuts, cold nights, rugged individualists in plaid wool shirts splitting logs and hearing the split echo. The split echo.

These are the October crickets, carrying the threnody forward like a relay race, through the basking afternoons to the early-turning evenings. That code that may mean something or nothing, or a very meaningful nothing. Time chirps. (Tobes... How should I end this?)

Hail, hail, Freedonia! Land of the brave and free!

[long pause, filled with the sound of cascading silverware]

Groucho: I can't understand what's delaying that coffee pot!


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