because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

In the Middle of October

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I recently had a nostalgic moment. The tree reminded me of something I hadn't thought about in a long time.

I remember you mornings mostly, emerging from showers: towel-clad, shoulders bare and water-speckled.

Wrapped in the orange glow from overhead heating lamps, enveloped by thick bathroom mist, you shined, luminescent. Poreless, your skin, bronze and pure, and I noticed you (as if for the first time) golden curls, heavy and weighted with water, still catching light and reflecting syrupy-sweetness.

So solid, you stood like some kind of crazy tree, and like the long-armed, wobbly-kneed tomboy I used to be, I wanted to climb your branches.

Wanted to become part of your limbs’ history.

Wanted to climb your sweet boughs, surrounded by soft reds and browns and gold, press my nose to hair which I remember smelled like autumn, musky and damp.

Everything about you reminds me of Fall, a time that, as a child, I called “tree-turn season,” a time that reminds me of a drum beat, or a heart beat, or some kind of gentle pounding, like a child’s fist on a brass knocker at Halloween.

(Was this why I loved you?)

There were more reasons, I’m sure, but in that moment, time spilled through air, an emptiness filled, and I scooped up fallen bits of my reality, throwing them invisibly overhead like the crinkly leaves of my childhood, as golden drops of water slipped down your back and you moved behind our bedroom door.

I didn’t recognize it then, but I should have known that winter was coming.

After apple-picking and pumpkin-carving and Halloweening, what do you remember about autumn?

This week writers were asked to use the weather, or a photo of an autumn day to inspire a memoir piece in under 300 words. For more wonderful pieces, click on the button above.

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28 thoughts on “In the Middle of October

  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your description and imagery here! Especially this:
    “…time spilled through air, an emptiness filled, and I scooped up fallen bits of my reality, throwing them invisibly overhead like the crinkly leaves of my childhood…”

    1. Thanks Leslie! I wrote this up really quickly. I’m trying really hard to make the time for these prompts. As a person who tends to “go long,” these limitations have been very good for me.

      Off to come find you! 😉

  2. is your hubby cool with you writing about me like this?

    1. Hubby is not the jealous type.

      Oh, and you WISH it was about you. 😉

      Thanks for being one of the people I’ve known the longest and definitely the guy with the best snark.

      Enjoy the fall with the fam.

  3. Wonderful!! I love the crispness of the air, and the way the light takes on a golden hue. (Fall is my favorite season! Even though I’ve been out of school for quite a while now, the season still has that ‘new beginning’ anticipatory feel.)

    1. I love that colors of fall, but I haaaaaate having to wear a coat.

      I’m a summer girl. 😉

  4. Very nice description of the Autumn season, Renee! I just love Autumn and all the warm colors that go along with the cooler air; it’s my favorite season of them all!

    Hope that you are doing well!

    1. So many people love autumn. And I do too, but I didn’t want to just write about colors and apples and pumpkins and Halloween. I wanted the memory to trigger something else.

      A relationship that was heading for winter.

  5. Beautiful. Especially the line about fall reminding you of a drumbeat, a heartbeat..etc. awesome.
    Fall reminds me of practicing basketball out on our court, the chilly wind biting my nose until it ran, and leaves falling from our huge trees as fast and thick as snow.

    1. Hi Ellie:

      In the fall, I always hear time ticking. As I said in another comment, several of my most significant relationships ended in the fall — so I always associate it with the passing of time.

      To me, autumn is a lie: It seems so beautiful, but I know what is coming.

  6. What a beautifully written memory. It read like poetry especially with the bittersweet ending.

    So glad I stopped by and got to appreciate an unusual take on the W.O.E prompt. Thank you!

    1. Hi Catherine:

      I hate to be morbid, and I appreciate your kind words. Unlike so many other people who say that fall is their favorite time of year, it is not mine. I tried to do something different.

      I hope it didn’t seem morbid. It is my truth.

  7. Beautiful description.

    My autumn memories aren’t quite that vivid, but I do really miss the seasons. Autumn doesn’t come to South Florida. I used to go hiking every October at Letchworth State Park with a friend from college. If it wasn’t peak foliage, we’d make plans to return the next weekend. Of course we always stopped at the wineries on the way back.

    1. Hi Larisa:

      We do the annual Letchworth trek. I guess I take it for granted, but I have to say the years I spent in New Orleans were my happiest. I love the heat. The hotter, the better. 😉

  8. The trees look like they are scratching the sky demanding back their leaves.

    1. Ooh, I love that image, Carl. In a way, that is precisely how I think of this season. *pouts lip* I get all cranky and wish the leaves would just come back.

  9. Oh you and your gorgeous (relatable) words.

    I love the photo that you added and used for inspiration- it’s stunning.

    Also? As a Minnesotan, I so get the double edged sword that is Autumn.

    I shudder at the thought that winter is so, so very close!

    Loved this, lady! 🙂

    1. Galit:

      I am so glad to have met you! Weird to feel a connection so quickly, but I do.

      Fall is that double-edged sword. It’s beautiful, but it is a lie.

      We know what is just around the corner, right? 😉

  10. LOVE this post; it is lush and lovely and a departure from a lot of your usual writing.


    LOVED it. Yes I did.

    Also, I kind of want to climb that particular tree, too.

    1. Hi Julie:

      I am trying to incorporate more of my prose in here as well as my narratives.

      Because I’m not just a one-hit wonder, ya know? 😉

      And nobody puts baby in a corner.

      Though sometimes I walk into them…

      Good tree, right?

  11. Sheer poetry, evocative and emotional. Your finest writing in capsule form. Thanks, Renee.

    1. Thanks Kate! I’m trying to be better about doing these RememberRED prompts. The challenge for me is to keep it short. Because Lord knows, I can go on and on. By trying to keep to the word count, I really have to edit. So thank you for noticing. It definitely does something to the writing.

  12. Raking and jumping into leaves. I love the smell of them even now!
    Great post!

    1. Thanks Susie! Ours are still up. Except for that one tree. Which is pretty dead. 😉

  13. Wow I really loved this – I’m late to post because I was checking in the other night to read the latest between bath time and bedtime stories, only to find this piece was much too deep for a quickie read and would need my full attention to appreciate the complexity of your poetry……………I’ve read it over several times and each time thru something else speaks to me. Thanks for sharing your beautiful talent.

    1. Thanks, Pam! You always leave the nicest comments. I know you kind of like when I write more “creatively.” The book that I’m working on has more of this kind of voice. 😉 If I can ever get it out into the world, maybe you’ll like it!

  14. Autumn means the falling away of the old, leaving a clean slate left to fill, so I always remember the sense of hope even when it’s gone.

    I tend to miss it before it’s gone. This morning, I got to see Li’l D stomping in a small pile of leaves and it just made me beam! This year, I think I’ll try to look forward to seeing this again next year instead of being sad for another one gone.

    1. That, my friend, is a much healthier way of looking at things.

      I should try that instead of walking around town with a pouty face, complaining. 😉

      PS: I actually liked Fall better when Monkey was still jumping in leaves.

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