The Back Page: Ah … tober
BY BRUCE STEINBERG
There are a lot of reasons to appreciate the month of October, in the sports world and elsewhere, beyond Halloween and the colors in a tree canopy. It’s the time when fans of all but two major league baseballs teams, then one, have reason to stop paying attention to the slowest game on earth, and it’s the time when the summer promises of nearly all NFL teams lie exposed as ticket-selling hype.
October is when half, full and ultra-marathons can be run at reasonable if not perfect temperatures, under those wonderful canopies discussed above. It’s when paddlers can own the rivers again because most, if not all powerboats, have been pulled into storage until next spring, and the water has not yet lost all its warmth. And while swimmers have to head indoors, there are usually lots of places to swim indoors.
Roller-skiers tend to hear less of “Where’s the snow?” because even non-roller-skiers know the snow is coming soon – hopefully! October is the time for hill repeats to be done in earnest, for equipment inspections, trail and race imaginings and planned Christmas lists for new stuff. October, to cross-country and alpine skiers, and snow-shoers and ice-climbers, does not fill heads with dread of winter, but rather hopes and expectations.
Cyclists, like runners, have cooler temperatures and fall colors. Although daylight grows shorter, it’s time to get all those cool lights, reflectors and flashers fired up.
Although followed by November, a month of gray, constantly low-hanging clouds, precipitation best described as ice-spit, and an inability to move from the dank ‘30 to the snowy ‘20s, October lets us know that winter sports are soon on the way (again—hopefully!) and November is simply something to get through without eating too much turkey.
Yes, the political robocalls and attack ads will flourish in October, but at least our kids will be well-adjusted to the school year, getting past the shock of late August and September’s loss of summer vacation, so that at least that whining will have become a memory. And for silent-sporters, raking leaves is not a chore, but a back muscle and core workout to add to our fitness level and Fitbit step count. Even better, October gives us the beginning of that time when lawn-mowing stops and shoveling the driveway has yet to begin – magical!
I admit that I’ve never heard anyone say anything close to the declaration, “I can’t wait till it’s October!” But like on nearly everything else, you can use the Internet to find a ranking of favorite months of the year based on a 2015 poll of a thousand Americans conducted by Gallup (well, that was a political off-year).
This poll shows that October came in second place for the favorite month of the year, behind only May. I question the source pool of this poll, however, probably abundant with couch potatoes and snow-haters, as January came in second-to-least favorite, with February voted the absolute least favorite – both months at about two percent each. For Birkie, Namekagon, Mora and other cross-country ski racers, such results are sacrilege! However, even May, at the top of all favorite months, still only garnered about 14 percent of the vote.
All this poll really proves, most of all, is that regardless of the time of year, most people will complain about the weather.
Like beauty, I suppose, the best month of the year is in the eye of the beholder. A possum is beautiful to another possum, and the expectation of winter, as well as winter itself, are the favorites of people who know the joys of ice and snow. We are a rare bunch, then, as unusual as possums are to non-possums. To us, October is our own “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” a month of great expectations and anticipations to enjoy, for the coming winter season we love.
For those out and about in January and February, in shape and zipping along, enjoying the surroundings a winter ski trail has to offer, no doubt, they had a great October.