When I was in college in the early 1980’s, I kept a journal. There was always something about October at the University of Maine at Orono that made me both sad and happy; I wrote the phrase “into the October” more than once in the margins of my journal. The football games, parties, grilled cheese sandwiches in the cafeteria, studying (well, not really), and music were big parts of every day. The music and lyrics of bands like U2, Dire Straits, and the Psychedelic Furs seemed profound. I had a Walkman portable cassette player and I used to run around the indoor track at the Memorial Field House, listening to such songs as “Love My Way,” “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” and “Twisting by the Pool.”
We had an “October Break” in those days; I must have spent some time sitting on the porch with Nana and O’Pa over one of these breaks because on October 7, 1983, I wrote the following anecdote in my journal:
“There were times when Pa didn’t work. But we always had a garden,” said Nana, “and cows.”
My grandfather uttered something that sounded like “hands.” I thought that maybe my grandfather was getting philosophical, stating that by being able to work with his hands he had enough to get by.
“Yes, we had hens,” remembered Nana.
“Und butter,” said O’Pa vehemently.
Oh well, so much for my grandfather as the speaker of profound thoughts.
As I look back on this today, I wonder where I thought I was going that October day. What particular fashion magazine make-believe scheme seemed more attractive than vegetables, milk, the profundity of hens, und butter? It seems ironic that all the things that defined my grandparents’ security 90 years ago are the same things that could define food security today.
I think I’ll brew a strong cup of October today, let it steep a bit, and think about it.
You think about it too.