October is a month of contrasts in the Midwest. There can be temps in the 80s and temps in the 30s. The flowers we planted in May have saved their brightest, last burst of color for October before the frosty nights take them. Meals transition from grilling out to stovetop simmering. It’s time for flannel sheets and cozy throws. Evening walks need to happen earlier as we lose daylight hours. It’s a candy corn, pumpkin spice, warm sweater month.

October is a prelude to winter. Mother Nature is easing us into the inevitable colder, darker, stay-home season. We like the security of being home when the weather is bitterly cold. We feel safe and protected. One thing is true of our weather: by the time we tire of a season, it changes. We know that when spring arrives, we will be ready to throw open the windows and rush outside.

But due to the pandemic, many of us have felt stuck inside for longer than usual this year. Stay-at-home guidelines found people unsure of venturing beyond their comfort zones. We are rethinking our decisions to travel, attend large gatherings and go places where we could possibly unnecessarily expose ourselves to harm. Businesses have changed the way we shop and eat out. Students attend school differently.

Back in March, I truly thought we would be in a better place by the time fall came around. But COVID-19 numbers are rising again and precautions haven’t gone away. More and more people are getting sick; many have died. Jobs have been lost or changed. We are just plain tired. And it’s hard to think about something besides this pandemic.

We can find other issues to occupy our minds and time. Every month is dedicated to various causes and groups. It’s a way to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes, as well as to educate and share information.

In October, these devotions are near to my heart: ADHD awareness, breast cancer awareness, SIDS awareness, and the Most Holy Rosary. Education leads to a greater understanding that children with ADHD are not bad; women must still schedule their annual mammogram, even during a pandemic; the Back-to-Sleep campaign saves babies’ lives; and it’s always good to say your prayers.

This is my last column for this round of The Write Team. It has been as much of a privilege to share articles this year as ever, maybe even more so, with all that has changed in recent months. Thank you to The Times and Tammie Sloup, my family and friends, and the readers in our community for the support and encouragement. I appreciate the comments and emails from strangers and friends.

There still are blessings around us. We must continue to find ways to support, learn and help each other. Do not take a minute for granted, it can change in a heartbeat.

Hopefully, we will share stories in the future. I look forward to writing about a spring thaw, gardens and lessons in the one-room-schoolhouse.

Until then, enjoy all the pleasures October brings. Snuggle with your family, read a good book, try a new inside hobby. And when October is done and Nov. 3 arrives, please vote.

Be safe. Be smart. Take care.

• Karen Roth is a semi-retired librarian/educator living in Ottawa. To reach her, email tsloup@shawmedia.com.

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