A while back, I saw a few people on Twitter ranking the months of the year, so I have spent some time trying to do it myself:
What February and August have in common is that they’re when the two most extreme seasons of the year start to overstay their welcome. We can still have 90-degree days in September, but September comes with the promise that they’ll soon be over. August only promises the likelihood of more. It isn’t all bad, though. For a lot of people—as it was for my family when I was a kid—August is vacation month. We could go away for a few days because the hay had been made and the oats weren’t ready yet. We’d get home and it wouldn’t be long before school would start, which never particularly bothered me.
I’d have ranked February higher when I was a kid because it’s the month my birthday is in, but screw that now.
Ranking November so high may seem weird to you, but November has much to recommend it: football and hockey, Thanksgiving (which is my favorite major holiday), the coming of winter seasonal beers, and the locking time. December gets a boost because I enjoy the trappings of the Christmas season, but also because I am a charter member of the Winter Is Better Than Summer Club. Motto: “You can keep putting clothes on, but you can only take so much off.” (But see March below.)
April gets the springtime nod over May and March because even if the boy leaves the farm, the farm never entirely leaves the boy, particularly during April. All that black, rich soil and the even rows of newly planted crops—I can see it and smell it even though I haven’t lived on a farm for nearly 40 years. March gets marked down because it’s usually the absolute butt end of winter. I remember actually cursing snowflakes as they fell one late March afternoon this year: “Isn’t this ##$%^@ing #%$ ever going to stop #@*ing falling, for #$@% sake?”
May is ranked where it is because it has to be someplace. Nothing interesting ever happens in May. It is the beige of months.
June is OK because of those nights before it gets too humid to breathe the air—in other words, before it becomes July. January is a letdown because the holidays are over, everything is one year older, and hockey season is in the midwinter doldrums. There is playoff football, but your team has to be in it. If they’re not, January is merely a long, cold slog to February, which is a slog of its own.
It will be no surprise to anyone who has regularly imbibed this pondwater that my favorite months of the year are September, now concluded, and October, back again. Our friend whiteray wrote about being an autumnal man a couple of weeks ago, and so am I. This change of season, from fruitfulness to harvest, from long days to short—from light to darkness—is our fate as creatures on this planet, compressed into a few weeks. In spring we grow, in summer we prosper and we frolic in the sun, but only for a while. In the fall, we start to feel our age, and we know where we’re going after that. But even while that inexorable process is taking us, we get to experience a few moments of beauty before we go.
Personally, October has been a month in which I have experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my time as a creature on this planet. I fell both in love and out of it, performed deeds both great and terrible, acted both brave and cowardly. So beyond the sunlight and the leaves and the first fire in the fireplace and pulling up an extra blanket in the night, October is full of people and places and times to remember. Memories enough to make me believe that the man I have become, whoever and whatever he is, was made in October and made by October.
Made for October, too.