We Need More Octobers


By, Dan O'Brien / Photos, Jill O'Brien

Perhaps my best argument against the theory of Intelligent Design is the indisputable fact that the vast majority of the good things to do in life happen in the same month. I’m talking about October and more specifically, October on the Great Plains. Winter out here can be inhumane, and summers can be unbearable. Spring can be good, but unpredictable. The time of year we wait for is fall. And the fall month of choice is October.

Sunset over Bison

It is “jacket weather”. Jackets in the morning but shed by noon, and not needed again until the sun sets into an almost always gorgeous sky. The days are long but not so long that a person needs a nap to see both sunrise and sunset. Octobers on the Great Plains are about as close to perfect as is possible on this earth. Trouble is, everything happens in October. There is a lot of getting ready for winter and recovering from summer. There is all that football and going back to school stuff – neither of which interest me much anymore. But there is the great change of season to watch carefully – the leaves, the epic migrations that pass overhead every hour of every day. There are young buffalo to watch as they become more independent from mothers. I spend time wondering what those half dozen big bulls that separated themselves from the herd are thinking. It takes a lot of time to consider and keep an eye on everything that happens in October and that time is subtracted from the things that are best DONE in October.

Grouse Hunters

Like hunting and fishing for example. I have five bird dogs that spend all year dreaming about October and I have a responsibility to them. I haven’t been up on Crow Creek, where October grasshoppers make kamikaze leaps onto the surface of dark pools and drive big fish wild with desire. The business of getting buffalo meat to customers takes up a lot of time at this time of year. Christmas is just around the corner and, like the hunters of old we are busy, “fill the larder”, as precious October light seeps away for another year. Some Octobers, New York agents ask for revisions of manuscripts, for crying out loud.

Bird DogsIt gave me little consolation to learn that the Harvest Moon – the October moon – was given it’s name because it is so often so bright that farmers were able to work most of the night getting their crops in. I don’t want to harvest crops, and brilliant as the Harvest Moon is, it is not bright enough to shoot birds by or to illuminate a gigantic brown trout sipping grasshoppers from shimmering water. I don’t want business and farming to hog October but I know it is the way of the world.

Harvest Moon over Buffalo

So here is my solution: the design needs to be altered to something more intelligent. Like two, or even three Octobers. Why not? I vote for cutting out January and February. Now that's intelligent - even Shiner agrees. 

English Setter




  • Posted on by Crista Worthy

    I remembered this post from last year. I think I will read this every October!

  • Posted on by Cheves Leland

    Thank you. October here in lowcountry SC is also great, but missing g a bit of one another year to see the Great Plains in October sounds like a must.

  • Posted on by Rod E

    I miss so much October… Our October ! The one you describe so well, Mr O’Brien.
    My life is good and unpredictable, as the spring you talk about… I think I am waiting for the october of my life as an october in my Brittany…

    Wish you all the best !

  • Posted on by Candi

    October is my favorite too. We are busy harvesting our crops and hunting deer. Our cows calve in Winter here in West Tennessee in order to give us time to get out of the fields. Loving this fabulous weather. Good luck to you and yours this season. We were picking cotton under the harvest moon.

  • Posted on by Jane Scott

    Nice to hear your views- I would enjoy seeing your “neck of the woods” one day. Stay well and happy

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