It is now October and it is almost a year since I started this little series of reflections on each month. I began with November, so this will be the last of these particular posts. With the arrival of October we are well and truly into autumn. The patio and window boxes are beginning to look a bit threadbare and there are colourful leaves everywhere. In a few weeks time the whole of the front garden will be covered with them. However October is usually still a pleasant month of the year, weather wise. The sun shines most of the time and though getting colder and colder there is often some warmth in the air. And with all the berries in full blaze, October is a very colourful month. Alas, come the end of the month, the clocks change and we are immediately plunged into winter darkness. So let's enjoy the brief respite that October brings.
Festival wise, October does not seem to be a particularly inspiring month. At least in Scotland we have the Royal National Mod to look forward to. This is the annual showcase of all that is best in our Gaelic heritage. A time to celebrate gaelic language, music and culture. Though very few Scots now speak the language it is important to remember that Scotland as a country was created by our gaelic speaking ancestors and it is good to see that tradition still alive and honoured. This year the Mod will be held from 8th - 16th October in Wick in Caithness. For more information about this year’s Mod go here.
If you fancy something completely different then head for Oundle, Northamptonshire in England. There on 10th October you will find the World Conker Championship. This started in 1965 and now attracts competitors from all over the world. Conkers was one of the great children’s games from my childhood. Every year the school playgrounds and streets would be full of children trying to prove their ability to smash their opponents conker. I wonder if children nowadays still play conkers? If you are unfamiliar with conkers then here is the place to go. The game is played with the fruit of the horse chestnut tree, known as conkers. They have also been used to prevent piles and rheumatism and can be used in wardrobes to keep away moths. Below are some conkers ready for action.
October is also the month when Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving. This has always been held earlier in Canada due to the harsher weather and the earlier onset of winter. So this year our Canadian friends will be celebrating on Monday 11th. Here’s hoping they all have a good time.
October is a good month for sports fans. The football and rugby season is in full swing and this year there are two world famous international events. First up, from 1st - 3rd of the month is the Ryder Cup, when the golfing gladiators from the USA and Europe battle it out for the biennial trophy. This year it is held at the Celtic Manor course in South Wales and Europe will be desperate to win the trophy back. Good luck to Monty and his team.
The other big event is the Commonwealth Games which runs from 3rd - 14th October. This year it goes, for the first time, to India. Delhi has the honour of hosting the games and let’s hope that all goes well. There has been some bad press about some of the facilities. But I suspect it will turn out to be a great event. I hope so, for in four years time the games come to Glasgow.
For my branch of the Rutherford family, I could only discover one event of significance. In 1865, on 9th October, Janet Mair died. She was the wife of James Rutherford and was therefore my great, great, great grandmother.
Opal is the birthstone for October. The traditional properties of the opal are happiness, faithfulness, loyalty and confidence. Opal comes in many colours, though blue is perhaps the most popular. Here is an example of a blue green opal.
The birth flower for October is the Calendula. This has been a popular flower for centuries. The early Christians called it Mary’s Gold, hence its common name of marigold. A member of the daisy family, calendula is a popular ingredient in herbal creams as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Calendula is associated with sorrow, despair, grief and misery. No doubt why they have become the traditional graveyard flower. However in India they are worn as garlands and as the flowers follow the sun in bloom, they also represent life and joy. A much happier image to end with.