It's October, and the world seems to ripen around you.

Don’t forget to breathe.

It’s October, and the world seems to ripen around you. Reds, oranges and yellows pop out overnight against the darker green leaves of trees that aren’t in such a big hurry, while squirrels try to get a little fatter with every walnut they crack open. It’s the best time of the year in the Midwest.*

The air is a bit cooler, which means the AC finally gets a rest and windows finally get some use. Sleeves are getting longer and jeans are starting to become a bit more common than shorts, but more people are outside; biking, walking and playing, treasuring the sunny days they took for granted in the summer, knowing the warmth won’t last forever.

School is in full rhythm now, with kids and their parents complementing the rituals of weekdays with plans for the weekends. Halloween is just around the corner, costumes and parties are being planned, and pumpkins are piling up at every farmers market and grocery, along with almost-pumpkin-tasting ales at the local craft brewery.

It’s the seasonal trifecta for sports fanatics — football is everywhere, at every level from PeeWee to High School to College to Pro, while The Cubs Just Might Win It All This Year and the NBA is already playing preseason games.

These are just some of the things that pop into my brain when out for my morning walks. I purposely leave my phone behind, along with its social media apps packed with partisan politics, ongoing injustices around the globe, and decadent dessert recipes. I avoid thinking about deadlines and to-do lists, and simply start walking in order to clear my mind, focus on my breathing, and soak in everything around me.

The tree that finally decided to finally dive in, after leaning way out over the river for years. The grey heron patiently waiting for breakfast to swim by, while three ducks splash around upstream. The Professional Dog Walker with seven, no eight, extremely well-behaved beasts on leashes. A spandex-wrapped ninja biker that silently swerves around the pack, egotistically confident that everyone will stay out of his way. A group of four women walking, all talking at the same time, making me wonder whose turn it was to be listening.

I reach my turn-around and head back. My legs may be tired when I open my front door again, but I’m ready to face the world.

Now it’s your turn. So get out, clear your mind, and enjoy the season.

And don’t forget to breathe.

*which (almost) makes me feel sorry for those that live in constantly sunny climates.

Kent Dicken

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