October Notes

by Jeff Oaks

The dark comes down earlier and earlier now. There is a more noticeable red among the leaves of the trees in the woods and along the river. The dog comes out of his rabbit-hunting forays in the weeds speckled, covered in seeds I have to brush off. There’s always at least one seed I have to dislodge very gently from the corner of his eye. I’ve noticed there don’t seem to be any rabbits to chase anymore.

Suddenly in the supermarket, I’m seized by the urge to buy leeks, parsnips, celery for soup. They look especially beautiful for some reason; they have a kind of wildness about them, their green and white stalks glowing, although they’ve probably been polished by someone who maintains them, who curates the space with an eye toward creating hunger. Very well then, I have been manipulated. I grab and bag and begin to dream of warm soups and bread and butter.

The angle of the sunlight in the morning has shifted. I’ve had to keep my sunglasses handy. I go to the coffeehouse and drink a magnificent cafe au lait and write out the month’s bills, including the one announcing that my escrow account is in the negative because of new taxes from the city. I still write checks. I put stamps on envelopes. I put the envelopes in a mailbox at the end of the street, the work of postmen and postwomen indefatigably continuing while a small band of men in Washington keeps the larger government from moving.

The neighbor’s pear tree has been dropping heavy, ripe fruit onto my back patio. You can see the angry wasps rising around them like electrons trying to ingest as much of the windfall as they can. They’re like self-activating bullets, aggressive, angry with hunger. The dog ran across a nest in the woods and got stung, not badly, but enough to make him cautious now around anything that buzzes. We’ve left the back patio alone so the yellowjackets can have their fill. I’ll clean it all up when November’s cold jaws clamp down. Maybe the elections then will shift the angry wasps in Congress.

We hope. We sign petitions. We walk through rains of gold leaves thinking of larger governments.