Although April was once called the cruelest month, I don't think it has much over October. Autumn is the time of fiery leaves, apples and pumpkins, the smell of someone's wood-burning fireplace in the evening, and the approach of the holiday season.
At the same time, it is the time when those fiery leaves turn brown and drift lifelessly away, when the ground itself turns gray and hard, and the sun slips into away so early that we both leave for work and arrive home in the dark. Winter is creeping up on all of us and I know it's just a matter of time before we face blizzards, freezing winds, and the never-ending battle of shovels vs. snow.
And yet I can honestly say that autumn is the time when my Muse feels the closest to me. For some reason, she? or he? whispers in my ear as well as in my heart more during this change of seasons than any other. Branches that are going bare -fine brown lace against a twilight sky- or skeletal wildflowers in the vacant lot down the block evoke sometimes overwhelming feelings of loss, of need, of anguish, and my better stories are all born of that painfully rich earth. I never realized how many of my stories are set in autumn until I consciously counted them, and I also found, to my surprise, that those stories cost me more to write but grant me a deeper sense of accomplishment than my lighter summer fare.
Autumn was that way for me even as a kid. It meant walking past that scary house five doors away from mine when the afternoon was already growing dark, or imagining that the solitary man or wizened old woman I passed on the street as I walked home from school were really denizens of a shadowy other world that threatened to engulf me if wasn't careful.
So now October is passing and once again I feel those pangs of longing and sad nostalgia tugging inside of me. Here's hoping I get a good story out my Muse this time.