Joan's Blog

"Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat"
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OCTOBER 1, 2012 4:49PM


Rate: 39 Flag


The last gasp of gorgeous before the cold and dark settles into my bones. Soon I will be perpetually cold. I will want to go inside before the sun sets. I will feel a chill as the long, dark tunnel towards winter approaches. Like a small child, I will want reassurance.

This morning I have things to do, but sip my coffee and stare out the window instead. One tree is changing color faster than the others. Don't be in such a hurry, I want to tell it.

I am still clinging to summer. The tan lines from my bathing suit are quickly fading. I notice two small brown spots on my face where the sun has left its mark.  I remember "Porcelana" in my mother's side of the bathroom cabinet. "Fades Brown Spots," I think it said. My mother's side of the cabinet is sparse. That and a jar of Nivea. 

You have to buy the Nivea made in Canada. Her beauty advice is simple. A jar of Nivea, Canadian made. I don't know if my mother's skin is soft. She doesn't let me touch it. She slathers her Canadian-made Nivea on her face every morning. The thick white cream sits on top of the deep lines, never sinking in. She wipes the excess off with a tissue. It is a ritual in the cold months.

I look at the tree with the red and gold leaves. Don't be in such a hurry. 

I try to hold onto summer knowing it is futile. The farm stand is overflowing with apples and squash. The juicy peaches, the ruby red strawberries, all just a memory now.

I bought apples in New York last week. My favorite. My mother's favorite. Macoun apples, they're called. When we got home, I hoped my husband would choose one of the many Honeycrisp and not the one Macoun left in the bowl.

He chooses the Macoun apple.  He agrees, it is very good.  I know I will have to wait until I go back to New York to get more.

 They don't grow them here, the man at the farm stand tells me. It's a New York State apple. 

October is the last month before my fingers hurt. The joints in my fingers become stiff with the cold. You might have pretty hands one day.  This is something my mother tells me when I am about twelve. She looks at me in parts, like a scientist. 

She is wrong. She couldn't know that the skin on my hands would grow paper thin by the time I am forty. The blue veins underneath make me appear older than I am. I do not have pretty hands.

October. My mother, middle aged and embarassed, gives birth to her last child. A girl. An accident.

When I found out I was pregnant again, I just put my head down and cried, she confides in me.

That day in October my mother drives herself to the hospital, maybe crying then, too. I don't know. She doesn't say.

 So much sadness around the birth of an October baby.

October is the last hurrah before the dark settles in. 

 It's apple time. Macoun apples if I'm lucky.

It's time for the thick white cream to soothe my thin, dry skin.  I choose something else. Not Nivea. 

It's time to turn my face to the still warm October sun and learn once again, to let go. 




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Excellent post, nearly poetic. Read and rated.
A sad, true, beauty for Oct. 1. Even in summer I use lotion, such a lack of humidity. This Oct. has come in with a roar...a hell of heat with the promise it will get cool here, eventually. Letting go of lots of things this fall.

A well crafted piece, still moving away from past pain. Going in a good direction, the beauty of fall.
nice juxtaposition, joanie, the goods with the not-so-goods, the wish-it-were-otherwises. however our mothers were - and some of us weren't exactly lucky in that card-draw - we are who we are, in part, because of them and, in part, in spite of them. i've never had a macoun apple, but now i want one. i can't have sunshine in november, but i get to wear boots. life in every season is some kind of a trade, don't you think? you don't get to wear a bathing suit, but your kiddo is a train ride away all winter. terrific writing, girlie.
This is wonderful truly. I began it reading about the change of seasons and agreeing with every single word - I'm desperately trying to cling to summer myself - so I related in every way. But then your piece turns and swivels and moves off in other directions so perfectly in sync (and many of those thoughts you've expressed about your mother I can painfully relate to as well). I feel as if you were also speaking for me in strange and mysterious ways. This was haunting and quite beautiful.
Saturday felt like spring, today it is barely 60 and dank. Leaves are turning. You describe the descent into fall so well. As for your birthday, I wish you a good one. I'll start now and let the good wishes build up.
There are limits to unconditional love. Hide the last Macoun.
So much here...thank you.
The rythms you draw upon in nature are mirrored in your words' combined cadences. This is quite remarkable, Joan.

Just perfect! You can look forward to becoming older and having absolutely needing to live somewhere warm in winter aka: all year long. One perk of aging Joan.
Joan, close to perfection. And the content, things turn out differently, and if we choose to notice, the blessings are sometime abundant.
Lovely piece. I hope this October brings you a bushel of Macoun apples for your birthday and only good memories. You deserve them.
Stunning writing! I can smell the fall smells wafting up from your page..... ;-)

(Try Royal Gala apples if you can get them where you are. You want the hard ones with the crisp white flesh, not the softer ones with off-white flesh.)

I loved reading this. Am also lathering the moisturizer on face and hands. I adore October. It is brilliant and hearty. Color is at its finest. Happy almost birthday, October Baby. You shine.
This makes me want to hop in the car and drive straight through to New York just to taste a Macoun apple.
i am an october boy
born to a mother always cold
in heart not hands
and yet the leaves will fall again
and tonight
i'll find solace in the poetry of your writing.
I can feel the chill in all the ways you write about it here. And I understand about hands. I do not like mine either, but now my age has caught up with them.
There are no words I could use to top these. But WTH am I going to do with all my Nivea?
Now days we worry about brown spots. I inspect mine carefully. Thank you for this brave post.
"October. My mother, middle aged and embarassed, gives birth to her last child. A girl. An accident.

When I found out I was pregnant again, I just put my head down and cried, she confides in me."

Wow. My mother too. She was 45. Dad was having an affair with the neighbor.
I always wondered why I knew this all of my childhood, that Mom cried at the thought of my existence, that Dad was having an affair.

If only those mothers of ours realized what gems of daughters they were getting... : )
Thank you everyone, for reading and commenting. I always appreciate it.
Beautiful. There's something magical about the combination of beautiful light on fall days, vivid fall colors, and the crisp taste of a perfect apple that takes some of the sting out of the transition to winter.
Those off-the-cuff comments of our childhood really stick with one. If your hands aren't pretty (neither are mine, the November baby) they still sent this post out into the world, and for that I am glad. r.
I love the fall but hate the thought of winter close behind, October for me is also filled with birthdays but also sad anniversaries, we lost my grandmother and my father-in-law in October.
It is definitely a season for remembering and letting go.
Never used Nivea, its always been Ponds in my house as far back as I can remember.
Poignant, poetic and full of the passion of life. I love your Octoberness. R
I just got back from a trip to Michigan. For me, it's Jonathan apples that mean something. They are supposed to be NYS apples, but I can't get them here so I brought back a bag of Jonathans. I love the dark. I get winter. It's summer I have trouble with. /R for lovely thoughts, tough issues, and a reminder that seasons hold a lot of significance.
I love October and everything about it.

I await the arrival of the McIntosh for it's only shelved here for a few short weeks.

I'll be busy with fall festivities, upcoming Halloween plans, etc., so let me wish you a very, very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
I love the way you meander without getting lost. How with you I taste an apple, a mother beyond your reach, always beyond it, the dripping gold that drops to dark and the exquisite thin skin, pulse of blood and need for comfort. All of this is all of ours now. Not one teeny weeny wrong note. Quite perfect.
I was not expecting where this went. Lovely and sad. So fine.
Joan, you are not your mother.

The hand that gorgeous chin, the chin that's holding that gorgeous smile rests on ? That's a beautiful hand.

You are not your mother.
Something about these comments makes my eyes tear tonight...
Thank you all, for your time and your kind words.

@Kim, xo
I loved this sentence "She looks at me in parts, like a scientist." My mother did that, too. And my grandmother. You're a lovely specimen of a human, Joan.

sigh. Yes, the chill air and the letting go.
Wonderful post! I've always thought from looking at your photo that you have elegant hands.
Yes, very well crafted. I also have Nivea and Porcelana memories. I long for the fall and even like the winter. The endless spring and summer here is making me feel dead. Happy October, dear Joan. Lovely writing.
So true about not wanting the leaves as they change to gold and orange to not be in such a hurry. I take breaks during the day to go out in my small field and gaze at the colors that are all around me. I wish you many Macoun apples this month Joan.
blessings to your skin,if that aint too weird.
i agree re october.
the boyz nd girlz are now covered up.
skin is for private,as it should be.
When I read your work, it is a moment of zen . . . you blend the commonplace with the beauty with the pain with the hope . . . it is all drawn with sure, strong, clear lines . . . even when you're not feeling "sure." Always elegant, eloquent . . .
Thank you again for the time you spent reading, and for the kind and generous comments.
October is my favorite month. Does that help? Probably not. I am also THRILLED that you were born in any month at all, because otherwise I wouldn't know you. If it wasn't such an awful year for Michigan apples this year, I'd send you a bushel of Macouns for your birthday.
Beautiful and so sad. This brought tears to my eyes, the way a cold wind would. Still, I hope this October will bring pleasant, beautiful surprises to you.