Hands down, October ranks as my most favorite month of the year. Mother Nature graces the planet with the best she has to offer, pumpkin and spice fragrances fill the air en route to simmering turkey and the aroma of pine boughs waiting around the corner, and the boys of summer push the envelope into autumn building to the divisional and league playoffs. What sets this October apart from other years hinges on two unrelated highlights: my new career and the Saint Louis Cardinals securing a place in the NLCS.
Throughout the year, my beloved Midwestern boys held the Reds and the Pirates at bay. They preserved through the season to win their division and keep the best record in the National League. When down two games to one, they tied up the divisional series. With one more win in their pockets, they would advance, and with one more loss, they’d end their year. This is autumn and this is when baseball gets good, and this is why I love October, because my Red Birds are part of it.
Today I am driving the tractor trailer out on the road for the first time. My focus, rightly, remains squarely on shifting correctly, stopping cautiously, off-tracking within my own lane, and reaching my destination safely. Each day I gather the information and training into a mind full of new experiences entirely centered on my education and skill development. I am sometimes living inside a confined space and often fail to stop during the day and remind myself that the weather is getting cooler, that the calendar pages advance, and that a world exists outside of the training I am receiving.
So as we stop the tractor trailers along the roadside bump known as Molasses Junction, I realize I ought to do more than stretch my legs. I need to absorb my surroundings from this first day on the road. Three days into training and I already have to prompt myself to look at the world around me through my traveler glasses. My inner photographer nudges the writer out of my trucker shell and I wander off to examine my first stop outside of the training grounds in which I have been currently rooted. Only a few clouds dotting a bright, blue sky, a harvested field, and four wood walls disguised as a county market awaken the explorer on this adventure. Around the corner I stroll and happen upon an entirely different baseball setting: three long-ago abandoned batting cages. I bet if my Cardinals found themselves at the T-junction of county road 214 and county road 13A, they would have lit them up. Okay boys, you’ll just have to knock a few dingers out of Chavez Ravine.