The Block Island Times

Only October

By Martha Ball | Oct 05, 2013

The morning of the Equinox I was awakened by a pounding, slamming downpour, the kind that batters the windows and hits the roof so hard it bounces. It had lessened to steady rain a few hours later when I parked my car in what appeared to be a created space at the end of a row in the Interstate parking lot and scudded to the ticket office.

The rain had abated, then stopped, within the hour it took to reach Galilee and I wonder, now, if I would have remembered it but for worry over the trip.

Every day since has been perfect, the sort of string of good weather we often have in summer when the only rain that falls is on a Camelot schedule and the mornings are long and filled with sunshine. It is an expectation of summer, hardly noticed when it happens. Despite dire warnings of severe weather none materialized on that day, instead it turned perfect as is has been every day since Autumn — the season and my golden puppy — came.

She, this new resident of Mansion Road, is a funny creature, totally at ease with any number of strangers, sleeping, undaunted by the sound of weekend traffic, outside a shop door on a busy corner in town. More passers-by than I would have imagined stop to take her picture and ask if they can pet her. “She likes commotion,” they told me at the house near the border of New Hampshire and I see that she seems to be lulled by it. A perfect lady in company, I know she is storing up her energy for rampages at home.

The little dog — who shows no sign of growing up to be other than a very big dog —trots down the road perking up whenever a pheasant rises from the brush but oblivious to the deer rustling through the goldenrod, from the still-growing fawn to the multi-pointed buck who gives her a “what is that!” look of absolute disdain before ambling into the overgrown field. She starts at the rustle of a bird in the not so miniature anymore crab apple in the yard but barely lifts her head at the rumble of the neighbor starting up one of his various pieces of equipment, always with a grand flourish.

Autumn is all of those things that make us understand why L.L. Bean and like outfitters use so many retriever puppies in their print advertising; she is a fluffy little thing that tumbles as she hits a slight incline when she runs across the barn yard. I think it cannot be possible that she has grown in a little more than a week but of course she has, such is the life cycle of a dog.

She also reminds me of things those ads, all cuteness and cheer, make one forget. She comes in after a morning walk, her puppy — that will grow into big dog — feet dampened with morning dew then muddied by a walk down the dry road. Again, I realize there has been no rain, there is no old towel in the big wicker basket beside the door.

My house is an obstacle course of puppy toys, most coming to rest in the path of my foot traffic. It is a big change; I have been saying I haven’t had a dog for four years, a puppy for 10 and realized the other day, in mid-sentence, that those numbers simply did not work. The dog gone four years was a rescue I had for a bit after a gap after another died.

It has been almost 20 years, which horrifies and reassures me; it is a dreadful length of time but there is a reason I am exhausted in a way I do not remember.

The old road that runs down the middle of the old pasture, not against a wall where the winter wind would fill it with mounds of snow, is purely October. There are tiny asters popping up in its middle, and rounds of goldenrod in various stages of growth dominating the fields on either side. Autumn is a baby and thinks everything is for her enjoyment. She nips at chicory, ragged sailor still blue in the early morning, grabs at random bits of grass bent over the rocky road surface.

The road was improved last year, there are no great hollows that will fill with rain, a favorite drinking hole of past dogs who seemed to believe eating a peck of dirt before they died a mandate, not an adage.

When the weather is this perfect I rarely even look at the weather site, the one I sometimes think I live on in the depths of winter, checking every few hours as though the length of days will have changed, magically stretched minutes longer. I know without checking that the days are shorter, but I cannot help myself. We are in free fall with 2 minutes 43 seconds less daylight tomorrow. It is already October; September, the month that is supposed to be long and easy flew faster than July or August.

It is warm still, even in the middle of the night, when the air is quiet and I do not bother with shoes. Even in winter there is often that time well after midnight that is so calm it is both eerie and ethereal.

The night as the month begins is gentle, soft and starlit. Sound carries when the world is quiet and the air so still but, at first, I think what I hear cannot be voices from the beach. But, it is beautiful outside, and earlier there was a flash of fireworks, more white flash and delayed boom than explosions in the sky, voices are not unlikely.

Perhaps it would be better — or more optimistic — to say it is only October, and at its beginning, there are plenty of days of good air to come.

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