October is here. Who knew that so many of us would still be alive?

We used to open the paper looking for scores, both sports and political. Now it’s the obits.

Still, October, undeterred by numbers, continues to dazzle in color. Should we count how many of these gorgeous days are left to any of us? Nope, too soon. The Christmas catalogs are coming.

I have my writing, thank the universe, with more stories to entertain and confuse you. And until the last vaccine fails, I have to eat.

As I wait for my final booster shots, including flu and shingles, I, like most of you, have to keep my mind occupied.

As the leaves fill my gutters, I wonder, will I wind up like the truly elderly, sitting on a tiny chair on the front lawn (masked of course), a blanket on my lap, Irish sweater draped on my shoulders, binoculars and pencil in hand, making notes for my new book titled, “Bird Watching While Waiting for My Booster.”

Not a bad idea. It’s better than being on a bench by the ocean in Florida, feeding bits of Big Mac to the gulls.

Yes, you see more girls on the beach in Florida. Well, you see more of the girls on the beach in Florida.

She and I have never been to Florida. We’d miss autumn in Maine. I have a nephew down there somewhere. He says there is no autumn in Florida. The trees don’t change color. The people do, given all that sun.

He tells me of a retirement home friend of his who has a part-time job walking along the beachfront, checking the old guys on the benches. If they don’t move by sundown, he calls for the “wagon.”

I enjoy it here sitting under a tree, tossing french fries to squirrels and waving to passersby.

She, who keeps an eye on me from her perch at the window, suggested buying me a toy whistle to blow should any of these strangers get excited and come up to chat, touch my hand, maybe give me a hug … and shorten my lifespan.

It’s hard to tell, she says, which of them are anti-vaxers or only on their first needle.

One older-than-me fella, six baskets away from me in the market this week, claimed he had two vax. His wife risked us by telling me they were only the flu and shingles shots.

On advice from older neighbors, I tried the early morning “senior hour” shopping. That can be annoying. The checkout lines take an hour to get through.

“No sir, that’s not a Visa card, that’s your vaccination card.”

It’s way too early. Friday, I gave it one more try and while waiting in the car for the doors to open I took a nap. About 30 minutes later, an old woman in an electric shopping cart tapped on my window with her cane and shouted, “You’re in a handicapped space!”

She’s staring at me now from the living room. I’ve taught her over the years that when a writer is sitting staring out the window, don’t bother him.

“Even if his eyes are closed?”

“Yes, that’s deep thought.”

“Well, if you don’t move by dinner, I’m calling the ‘wagon.’”

I regret reading her first drafts.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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