Lost October

I watched a woolly bear, those fuzzy brown and black caterpillars, inching its way up the side of my house earlier this month. It jogged the memory of a poem I wrote another October when my sons were young:

All at once
the cherry tree’s a web
against the sky
the leaves are slippery
instead of crunchy
and the cat’s
grown fat.

Water steams
on both stoves now
the bees won’t leave
their warm white box even
when the clouds break
and the chickens
aren’t laying.

The boys move
into winter jackets
I into my wool sweater
dug dahlias under cover
and the woolly bears
those winter psychics
they’re gone.

Life has changed for me since I wrote this poem–the cat, bees and chickens are long gone and the boys are grown. I now use only one little wood stove when it’s cold, and wouldn’t think of digging my dahlias. But November still follows October, the weather turns crispy cold, and those weather forecasters, the woolly bears? They’re still here. According to folklore, the wider that brown band in the middle is, the milder the winter will be. My woolly bear? It had a fair-sized brown middle, so I haven’t dug out my long johns yet.

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