It is an October in my Soul: A Tragical Fall Tale

Is Fall your favorite time of year? I’m guessing if you chose to read this blog then yes, you treasure and savor the change in light and the color of the trees & look as giddily forward to October 1st as I do.

For the last 8 years fall brought me charming semesters with my fellow English majors. Fall meant long evenings sipping lattes on the third floor of the library pouring over books on Shakespeare, Milton & Marlowe. Fall meant paradise for me. If you know an English major you won’t be surprised to learn that they are some of the most sentimental people you will ever meet. There is something in our natures & love for books that inevitably brings about a hopeless sense of romance when we think about fall semesters & rainy campuses.

Photo courtesy of noticeverything.blogspot.ca

This is my first fall without school. I finished my master’s degree last autumn, it was crazy, wonderful, the most stressful thing I’ve ever done and I miss it desperately. I feel as though a piece of myself is missing, that a beautiful part of my life is over.

I made myself cry just writing that – a true sign of sentimentality & english major funk? I think so.

Even though school has not ushered me into fall the way it has for almost the last decade, I have still felt the simple joys of buying my first (6) pumpkins, sipping my first spiced latte & seeing the charming decorations at Disneyland at twilight.

I’m realizing there are lots of things I dearly love about Fall & that I don’t need a library, tons of homework, or puddly-campus to savor it.

Here are just a few of my favorite fall treats:

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons so here is a list of all my favorite little Fall things!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes – I squealed in delight with my first sip.

– Come to think of it, there is pumpkin-flavored everything this time of year. that’s great.

Disneyland’s Halloween transformation. The streets are stacked with pumpkins & the glowing windows are filled with spooky displays. The Haunted Mansion gets a makeover and you can smell the gingerbread house in the grand ballroom that is specially redesigned every year for the ride. Big Thunder Ranch is perfect with the pumpkin-carvers and the festive little cottage. It’s Disney at it’s best.

– Trader Joe’s pumpkins! They’re cheap & beautiful – a perfect combo.

– The time of year when you watch “You’ve Got Mail” – one of my absolute FAVORITE movies. If you don’t know what “bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils” are then get on Netflix NOW. You have missed out for far too long.

– This painting.

Peter Ellenshaw, “Winnie the Pooh Autumn Leaves”

– I light candles in the newly darker evenings & that always makes me feel cozy & at home

– I also like to re-read some of the Harry Potter books this time of year, Harry & Halloween just go together & those books never get old.

– Most of all, I love fall because it means the craziness of summer is over, the frantic traveling between here & there is over and I can finally just be home. it’s simple but it is one of my chief joys.

To quote John Milton (author of Paradise Lost & a serious genius)

“The mind can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven” (Book 1, l. 253-55)

Maybe my heaven of school would have been your personal hell, or perhaps fall is your least favorite season because glorious summer is over. The point is that change comes to everything, endings come and traditions disappear.  But our minds can see good even in semester-less falls, new heavens can be lurking where we never could have imagined them before.

(an actual photo from last semester in the library with my semester-long companions)

Is this fall different for you in some way?

What are some of your favorite fall treats?

Molly Keating

About Molly Keating

Hi, I'm Molly and I write for the blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.
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  • Kim Stacey

    The first fire in the wood stove – that’s my favorite fall moment. Experienced last week. Then, there’s the first rain of the season – I love the smell of the surrounding forest when the ground becomes damp.

    I share your “angst” at no longer being a part of the academic scene! I was awarded my M.A. in anthropology in 1983…that’s one heck of a long time to be “missing the classroom”, eh? It’s never faded, either. I’m looking forward to the workshops at the NFDA convention next week, because attending…sitting in the front row, notebook open and pens at the ready…brings back sweet memories!

    Another nice post, Molly. Excellently evocative writing.

    • Kim,
      What a beautiful moment, “the first log on the fire” – wow, that sets an instant mood in my head. Beautiful. I love the rain, too. There’s something lovely about being driven inside by a cool rain & needing that fire in the hearth to warm up your toes.

      It’s also always a delight to me to learn about someone’s academic history especially when, like you, they are passionate about it & nostalgic for it. I’m comforted to hear that your memories & love of those days haven’t faded, I sometimes worry that mine will. But with each sip of my first pumpkin spice latte it was as if I was transported suddenly to campus with boots on my feet, a scarf on my neck, books cradled in my arms & the most contented smile on my face.

      Thank you for reminiscing with me, for charming me with your moments & for sharing some more of the wonderful person you are!

  • Molly,

    I so appreciate your openness and willingness to share a little bit about yourself. The turning pages turn into finished chapters in our lives. We leave a little piece of us every time we complete a chapter, but that just means there is more space to fill with new and exciting things with our next chapter.

    I love summer, but September is probably one of my favorite months of the year. It encompasses both seasons within it and that transition is marvelous to behold. I do like the first fire in the fire place and that first rain, but the most anticipated change is the fall Santa Anas that can blow through the canyons in early fall. Feeling that special wind on my face will never get old.

    Chuck

    • Chuck – I love your idea, that I am turning pages in my life and that that chapter is now written and done. It’s hard to feel like there’s more ahead without paper deadlines & exams looming but I suppose one can still be successful & productive outside of school ; )

      I love the Santa Ana’s too although I somehow always forget about them. Thank you for reading & sharing Chuck!

  • Carrie Bayer

    Molly- like you, I missed school once I graduated. It just felt like something was missing. But as the years have passed, I have truly seen just how much I benefitted from all the hard work & studying. That made it easier. I love Fall, mostly because it begins to cool down (the heat this year has seemed to linger on forever!) but also because there’s just a different “feel” in the air. Crisp, cool & foggy mornings are a great enjoyment for me. Thank you for sharing your sentimentality! Carrie

    • Carrie, I definitely feel that I’m beginning to see the benefits of my degree – this blogging project being the foremost one. Knowing that I’m incorporating my degree into my work brings me so much peace & happiness, it’s all still with me even if I’m not on campus.
      I love the “feel” you’re talking about. I know it’s been super hot this week but just with the change in light I’ve been able to imagine it’s cold & have had no problem enjoying the indoors.
      Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Erin M.

    Molly, your post reminded me that this is my first fall without school, as well. I was already feeling a little nostalgic and in a funk without school, and perhaps that is why! I relate to your sentiments about both school (although different subjects) and fall. Our souls share the same love for this beautiful season.
    Love you,
    erin

    • Erin, you dear friend!
      I love your soul & how similar our loves are. Thank you so much for reading this & taking the time to sweeten my day with your words! I can’t wait to see you this weekend and enjoy more of this season side-by-side!
      love you!

  • Danae Overman

    Molly- I literally cried reading this post. I am so sad at not being back in school that this fall is incredibly hard for me, as well. I am partially comforted in knowing that you are feeling the same way and that I am not crazy.
    I miss you.

    • Danae,
      I’m so glad this connected with you & that you could relate to my sentiments. Thank you so much for reading & connecting with my story.

  • Anne Collins

    Molly,
    I totally understand about the first fall out of the classroom. I think it also has to do with “growing up”, in a way. Somehow, even though YOU aren’t, remaining in a classroom makes one feel a bit like a non-adult. There are many heavy responsibilities to adulthood. Actually the more study and work you put into school, the better prepared you are to handle it all in a stellar way. I have no doubt you are doing just that.

    Enjoy your latte and your pumpkins! Soon it will be Christmas and they will switch to peppermint!! Love every word you write, Molly. You made me see and feel it all.

    • Anne,
      What sweet words! Thank you so much for your wise insight – that this is my charge now, to make what I took all that time learning & practicing into well, practice! I’m so blessed to have the job I have & to now finally be in that “adult” part of my life.
      Thank you again for your encouragement & compliments – they mean the world to me coming from you!

  • Jeff Turner

    Molly,

    We are very much the same when it comes to the emotional, romanticized way of looking at things, though you take this to a whole different level… and I love it. You keep me connected to the fun of stories and the fantasy of “Winnie… Harry” and others. Some of these are from my childhood and others you have introduced me to. I don’t like the sun shortened days of winter, but I do like the transition of fall. The changes in light and color are mood setting and the sights, sounds and aromas of pies, wood fires and the Thanksgiving season are among my favorites.

    Thank you for bringing the delights of your romantic sensibilities to the open where we can partake and perhaps alter our own view.

    One of my favorite movies for this season is, oddly enough. “To Kill a Mockingbird”. It is a story told much from a child’s perspective and it’s final chapter ends in the fall. It’s subject is far from the childishness that you would suppose might dominate a story narrated by the child now grown, but it manages to capture the magic of that season of life and then stare straight into the face of the realities of our not-so-magical world. Evil sometimes claims the innocent and not everything works out for the best. So the worst and the best of men are contrasted in this enchanting vignette of this ageless struggle.

    Sorry… I have gone down a rabbit trail here. At any rate, I thank you for your provoking thoughts, perceptions and love of small yet spectacular detail that are easily missed as we tend to move through our days infected with the “hurry sickness”. I am going to slow down and savor.

    Thanks Molly,

    Jeff

    • Jeff,
      I hadn’t really thought of “To Kill A Mockingbird” as a fall movie but you are 100% right. The hot summer finally comes to an end and what had happened? “Boo Radley had come out” – so awesome, I’m getting goose bumps right now! You’re also so right about our struggle to really just pause & delight in the season. I know for me there are certain magic places where I can do nothing but pause – Disneyland is the best of those places. Hopefully the pumpkins I scatter around the house will help you savor the season & we will definitely be enjoying Atticus & Scout soon.
      You are so sweet to credit me with so much – it’s easy to share my passion with you because you take them in & then love them as much as I do! You are a dear friend to me because of the sweetness of your soul & the loves we share.

      I love you, thank you so much for sharing your heart.

  • Christopher Iverson

    You’re blessed because you’ve danced with the Velveteen Rabbit; flown kites with Christopher Robin and Pooh in the Hundred Acre Forest; explored the labyrinths of Hogwarts with Harry; dreamed of love to the sonnets of all the great poets and shared your loving excitement for anything written with those close to you. Everyone loves an English Major with a Masters Degree in passion and imagination.

    • Wow, Chris. That is so beautiful! You pretty much pegged it too! Thank you so much for your charming words – they really made me smile.

  • Molly –
    You do have a big heart!
    Summer is my favorite time of the year, yet I am becoming a big fan of fall! I like the change of the seasons. Mainly for all the typical guy reasons football and basketball are here! I also like that winter is next and that means snowboarding season. I do love the holidays too, time to spend with family and friends. This year will be incredible with Jesse at Christmas time, last year he was to young to understand there is a present in the box for you. I love building fires and lighting candles as well, I rather have a cold house where you have to warm it up, instead of a hot house you need to cool down. Happy Fall to YOU!

    • Neil,
      I’m with you about the cold house – one of my core beliefs is that you can never have too many blankets, just ask Bryce.
      It makes a ton of sense that summer would be your favorite but I’m glad that fall is finding a place in your heart. I can’t believe I forgot to mention football, GO PACKERS! I love sitting around with my family cheering for our team & enjoying bar-b-que.
      Jesse is going to knock your socks off this Christmas, I’m so excited for you & Lisa to have so much joy in your home in the form of that darling little guy. Can’t wait to see pictures & thank you so much for writing & sharing!

  • Lori

    Molly,
    I read this post while sitting in my office at home. The sun hitting the window tells me we are going to have another day of extreme heat.
    This post makes me long for fall weather, sweaters, hot beverages. falling leaves…….
    I relate to you very well on two topics….love of pumpkins and missing school.
    To this day I still have dreams that I am late for a class at Chapman University. I loved the time I spent there earning my degrees. While I am an Education major, I have your same sentimentality about the experience.
    Thank you for getting me in the mood for fall. I hope the weatherman gets your hint!

    • Lori,
      I hope he gets the hint too! I don’t mind the heat as my imagination can usually overcome obstacles like that (with the help of AC of course!) but man, I just can’t wait to bust out my sweaters & scarves.
      I either didn’t know or didn’t remember that you went to Chapman – that university is so beautiful! If I can romanticize Long Beach as much as I have I can’t imagine how I would feel about a university that is actually gorgeous! Thank you for sharing with me Lori & for taking the time to write – I love you & we need to have some coffee together with our scarves & sweaters just as soon as the weather allows!

      • Lori

        I agree! It has been way too long since we have had a proper visit.

  • Tom

    This is some great information.

    • Thanks Tom,
      Glad you could glean some info from this!

  • Shasta Thompson

    I love all of the halloween decorations in the stores and candy corn!! I’m on my second bag, its so bad but soooo good! I’m excited to dress my new baby brother up for his first halloween this year!

    • Shasta!
      I’m so glad I’m not the only one already relishing the delights of the season! You’ll have to give m a final tally of how many candy corn bags you make it through!
      Also, how fun to dress up your little brother! Every year it’s the little kid costumes at Old Navy or Target that bring me the most joy – have tons of fun with that!

  • Shayna Mallik

    Molly,
    What a great blog! Thank you for sharing a little piece of yourself with us. I actually know what you mean about school being associated with the season of fall. i’m sure this part of your life(without school) will be full of experiences and excitement. I know how you must miss school, getting your Master’s is a huge commitment to school and it is awesome that you succeeded and pushed thru. The first fall I had without school felt odd, waking up getting ready for work and going to my job instead of my usual routine when I was in school. It’s a completely new way you will experience the season of fall. Thank you so much for reminding us the joys of fall.

    • Shayna,
      Thank you so much for reading & sharing your own experience with this change. It is a new way of experiencing the season and I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far that I’ve been able to savor it so fully even without my usual traditions.
      I’m looking forward to new ways or perhaps just deeper ways of treasuring this season and making the most of it.

      Thank you for your comment!

  • Kari Leslie

    Molly,
    I absolutely LOVE that you LOVE the Fall, and I LOVE that you have a Masters Degree (ugh!) and that you miss school!! You are an amazing young woman!!

    Love you Kiddo!!

    Kari

    • Kari!
      I LOVE that YOU love fall, too! I hear it’s already a harvest paradise in your home & I so love knowing souls that are as kindred to mine as yours.

      Thank you for your kindness & love – love you back!

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Molls
    You and I move in the same direction when it comes to Fall! I’m there with you every step of the way. For me, however, the days of studying in the library and long nights awake writing papers have long since left me. But regardless of the time frame, we are all creatures of our own design. Our tastes can be as varied as our age, but the seasons of life are exactly that . . seasons. We learn more each year as we take off old traditions and move forward with new and exciting opportunities. Just look at where you are now? Simply wonderful to have you here among us. Who would have thought! Enjoy this season . . pumpkin latte and all.
    I love you dearly,
    AP

    • Aunt Pat,
      I find that I spend a lot of time throughout the year longing for this season but I’m quite certain that without the others to compare it to I wouldn’t treasure it the way I do. Your reference to the seasons of life prompted that thought as we can only move through life and appreciate the changes of each stage as we complete the one before. It makes me want to cherish even the bleakness of March when it comes as each day that passes brings me closer to October but also sharpens my joy. I’m going to learn to love March as well, determined to do it this next year!
      Thank you for all you say & for your dear heart!

  • Ms. Fran Cantor

    Dear Molly,

    It has been awhile because your Blog did not accept my e-mail and that is why I had to called you. Sorry.
    So proud of you to have receive your (Master Degree) congratulation. You have a full future ahead of
    you. When you mention the Fall Season, it put a smile on my Face. Memories of my days in winter
    wonderland in “CHICAGO” Burrrrr. Snow, Snow Making Snow Ball fights, Making Angel, Snowman.
    The Holidays are the best Turkey Dinners with a large Family. XMAS!! TREE My Dad had to have the
    Tree perfect every TINSEL had to hung one by one at a time, don’t throw it in the TREE but it did look
    Beautiful. I do hope someday you will have the Holidays in the Snow. You would love it!!! Playing in
    the snow. We also did Ice skating in the Park after school when the lagoon would freeze. Oh Yeah!!!!!

    So you see what you have done to me thinking of all the wonderful things I did as a Child. There was
    an actor call “Bing Crosby” would sing “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES” Soooooo ” THANKS FOR
    SHARING your Memories. Blessing to you. For your warm “HEART” +

    As Always,

    Frannie

    • Frannie,
      I’m sorry your experienced trouble with the comments – it was a techy thing that we’ve since sorted out & I’m thrilled to hear from you again!

      What a beautiful bunch of stories you have to share! I can only imagine the magic that snow brings to a holiday landscape. I love going to Disneyland during Christmas & seeing the Southern California version of “snow” on Main street.

      I’m so happy that I could give you cause to reminisce & think of your dear father & how he wanted everything to be just perfect for you. What beautiful memories.

      Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Sharon Watkins

    Last Fall was a first for me in South Orange County. I grew up in Glendale, CA – spent many years in the Phoenix, AZ valley and then have been in Sunset Beach for the last 10 years. I had no idea the Fall beauty that came to this part of the State until a year ago. I found a new favorite spot in Laguna Woods Village along the side of Aliso Creek.

    I moved into my 6 month temporary home October 1st. I immediately went out walking in search of new sites in a place that felt like the mountains to me. I felt like I had gone from the beauties of the ocean and beaches of North County to the beauties of hills and greenery of South County – they are so very different kinds of beauty!

    The leaves on all the variety of trees along the creek were just beginning to turn colors and each day as I would take my morning walk it was fun to see the differences and changes. It seemed to just get more incredibly beautiful with each passing day. Just as I would think it couldn’t get any better, the morning light would highlight a new scene for me and I would fall in love all over again with the beauties of nature.

    Someday I would love to take you to my favorite spot. There is a small plaque there stating that this AMAZING tree in front of the plaque is estimated to have come into existence about the time the pilgrims landed in America!!! It is the most amazing tree I have ever seen and the PERFECT climbing tree for any kid or adult! I couldn’t resist climbing among it branches…..if only trees could talk! My goodness this one would surely have stories upon stories to tell of the many Fall seasons of change it had seen. So come along – I’d love to show you! It is the perfect time of year to really appreciate this wonderful sight!

    I have a hard time deciding if I love the Fall season or the Spring season better. They both excite my senses in different ways and for different reasons.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us once again. I always enjoy your posts.

    Sincerely,
    Sharon

    • Sharon,
      How lovely! It’s so sweet to have familiar spots to visit & note as the seasons change them. Trees are our best testaments to the changes taking place around us & I love that they communicate in color!
      Finding beauty in new places can sometime seem hard when we are longing for the past or what we are familiar with. I applaud your embrace of your new home & the new forms of beauty that you now get to treasure.
      Thank you so much for sharing – I’d love to see that tree!

  • amy

    Molly
    We share the same love for Disneyland. This time of year is my absolute favorite. With all the holiday decorations for Halloween and Christmas, the crisp air and yummy hot chocolate. My girls and I look forward to it each year.
    Thanks for always painting such a beautiful picture with your words of wisdom.
    Amy

    • Amy!
      I just can’t get enough of Disneyland, I could probably visit everyday and still feel that way. I know Walt said something to the effect of “give them more than they can see and they’ll keep coming back for more” – and boy oh boy do they! The nostalgia and – there really is no other word for it – Magic of that place is intoxicating.
      I hope you get to visit soon & have that perfect enchanted evening with your girls. Thanks so much for reading & sharing!

  • Mark

    Molly…..I liked the fact that your article reminded me of two things that I like: Disneyland and the movie”You’ve Got Mail”…..thanks, Mark

    • Mark,
      Thank you so much for reading! I would never have guessed that we shared a love of that movie! Glad I could remind you of happy places & things. I hope you can go to them often.

      Molly