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Letter from the Publisher: October Skies

by on September 30, 2019 3:20 PM

October produces some of the most beautiful skies of the year. The striking blues and grays balanced against a hazy white create the perfect canvas to highlight a wide palette of fall colors.

Very rarely will you find a clear sunny day in Happy Valley during October. Most of the paintings and photos created this time of year showcase Penn State architecture with an autumn sky of dark blue and gray. It is exactly as I remember it from my college years.

October also has a smell all its own. The smell of leaves, pumpkins, and bonfires. Leaf smells are presented in two fragrances, just like fine wines: dry and sweet. Well, maybe more like dry and wet. Of course, these smells change when you attempt to rake them.

In our yard, the leaves cover a squirrel’s banquet of acorns, black walnuts, and corn. Throughout the fall, the squirrels begin collecting and hiding these foodstuffs for winter. They also enjoy eating these treats on my roof, depositing nut shells and corn cobs in my rainspouts. These gifts from my furry little friends add to the many leaves already working their way into my downspouts. I know fall has officially arrived when my rainspouts are blocked and overflowing. 

Pumpkin smells come in three varieties: uncarved, carved, and “left out on the porch too long.” What other time of the year is it acceptable to carve up a vegetable and place it on your porch with a light in it? Today, most folks use a battery-powered light to illuminate their pumpkin. Growing up, I can remember placing a burning candle inside the pumpkin and watching the smoke and soot deposit on the inside lid. The worst think you could do to your pumpkin, other than catch it on fire, was to break off the stem on the lid. No true jack-o-lantern should be stemless.

Carving the pumpkin involved sharp knives, adult supervision, and lots of old newspapers to place the seeds on. The smell of a freshly carved pumpkin is one that brings back many fun childhood memories.

Many people enjoy bonfires and cookouts in the back yard. In the more rural areas of Centre County, the smell of smoke and dry rub permeates the cool night air. Getting together with family and friends around the firepit is a beloved fall tradition.

Of course, the highlight of October is our spectacular autumn colors. Our region is blessed to have some of the most colorful deciduous trees on the East Coast. The red of the maples, the orange and brown of the oaks, the yellow of the birch and walnut trees, and the various color shades of countless shrubs make October foliage viewing truly special. 

Enjoy the October skies and stop to smell the leaves and pumpkins.




Bernard A. Oravec


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