Warrior Words: October

She barks — I like to think she’s laughing in her own way — and with her tongue lolling happily, she leaps from the car to the asphalt. “Good girl,” I murmur.

As soon as I step out of the driver’s door, a burst of chilly October wind sends me right back into the car to grab a jacket. But a little cold never stopped my dog from enjoying her walk — insulated by her magnificent chubbiness, she tugs impatiently at the leash, as if to scold me for being too slow.

Roxy and I have wandered down many paths together in Wilton, from Weir Farm to Allen’s Meadow to behind Stop & Shop (we had to give it a try). And today, on a quiet October weekend, I have brought her here for a stroll along the Norwalk River, which tumbles, wild and cool, off to my right. On my other side, my enthusiastic canine lopes along, almost dragging me along in her excitement to sniff various patches of ground. And so we ramble on, a waddling golden retriever and a shivering me, down the Merwin Meadows footpath, determined to go nowhere in particular.

And on a frosty October Sunday, what could be a better destination than nowhere? I am content to simply be here, ambling along with a four-legged companion, the two of us suspended between a beginning and an end, right in the middle of an afternoon journey.

October is also a journey of sorts, much more than a vast gap of white on a calendar. It is a time of change — the month when orange and yellow ignites the palette of the forest, flooding the breeze with freshly fallen leaves. October is the month of the in-between, bookended by holidays celebrating a certain 15th Century explorer and another involving the consumption of massive quantities of candy corn.

At the high school, October is no longer the beginning of the year, but not even close to halfway. In this interval, no quarters begin or end, no grades are finalized, and no midterms are given. This is a month of transition, between one season and the next, and between one chapter of life and its sequel.

For seniors, October is a month of change as well, as these autumnal weeks are the last before the first college application deadlines. It is the month of final preparation, sloping upward to a collegiate climax.

It is an era of essay writing and interviews, of college visits and standardized test taking — when dreams at last take shape, sent flying into the world with the click of a single “submit” button. And yet, October also falls before acceptances and rejections and deferrals and wait lists — when every dream is still viable, every door still open, each hope still buoyant.

For 31 days, the infinite is within reach.

Roxy barks again, bringing me back to the moment. This time I’m sure she’s laughing — and I smile.

Chase Smith is a senior at Wilton High School. He shares this column with five classmates.