On November, My Favorite Month…

Autumnal Leaves, Autumn, Orange

On November, My Favorite Month…

I was living in Chicago. I stood at the large bay window in my condo and looked out at the Forest Preserve. Fallen leaves covered the ground; the sky was grey.

It was then that I realized that I loved the grey days, their sense of melancholy beauty resonated with me. November in Chicago, grey days. And then November became my favorite month.

It remains so, though in North Carolina those grey days don’t come until December. November, grey days, the birthdays of those I love and those who have wounded me the deepest, Thanksgiving, a time when, bare of their leaves, trees show us who they really are, the Novembers of our lives, literally and figuratively.

I spoke to a woman in her late 80s recently. Her best friend, one she knew since her high school days, had died. She spoke of the loss, not only of her confidant, her friend, but also of someone who knew, and had shared, her history. And that is part of what aging is – losing those we knew and loved, losing those who knew us. It made me even more resolute to publish that memoir. Not only to tell my story, but also as a way of preserving that sensation of the self that I once was, complete with failings and at least a few strengths. The real, the true, as memory and imagination blur, my perception, my sense of truth as suspect as the characters in my story.

Meanwhile, from my sun porch I stare at my favorite beech, holding on to its brown, brittle leaves until Spring, unwilling to expose its bare branches except to those who look deep and hard. And that is what I want to do.

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On Thanksgiving

leaf-thanksgiving
On this day, after so much, W.S.Merwin gives us pause:

Thanks

BY W. S. MERWIN
Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is