An Essay: November
Perhaps it is the cruelest month of all to those who live in northern Ohio. The rich amber, gold and purple leaves falling from the exposed brown tree bark remind us of the coming cold winter. The trees are weeping their leaves in winds that start out as lukewarm breezes and turn frigid in minutes. Blue skies turn a brooding grey in a heartbeat. It is a melancholy goodbye to summer and the beginning of winter.
The split personality of November juxtaposes us with contrasts every day. There may be time for bike riding, walks and driving through the valley, but the short days of November have us home before nightfall.
The first day of November is a fusion of both remembrance and excess with the Catholic feast of All Saints Day and the spoils of Halloween begging. A rewarding gluttonous day for youth and a painful day for those who lost someone dear. A time for retrospect mixed with the joy of the young.
On November 2 , daylight savings ends and setting clocks back one hour shortens the precious sunlight that seeps through the grey clouds. Voting day is on the first Tuesday and it brings us a jaded hope that things will change and usually they do, but it never seems to be what we want. We are cautiously hopeful that the secret dealings of crooked politicians are over.
Veterans Day on November 11 is a day of ceremonial thanks and prayers for the young men who went off to our many wars and didn’t come home. American servicemen’s graves are all over the world because America is always helping other countries in their time of hostilities. The veterans that did come home are honored and thanked for saving our American way of life. So few that did so much for the rest of us. God bless our heroes.
November 22, 1963 is etched in our lives as the end of innocence for America. The Kennedys were our first superstars and we couldn’t get enough of them. It was a joyful and exciting time; we believed our politicians then and felt our government in Washington would lead and protect us. Then he was gone. We began to learn of conspiracies. The world would never be the same again.
Thanksgiving Day is in some ways nicer than Christmas because it focuses on only three things - family, friends and food. Less hectic, it is a day of hugs and platters of food. In the morning, guys will go to the neighborhood parks and play an annual ragtag football game that started in grade school and will continue until they are grandpas.
Tables will be set with the good china and silverware. The kids will decorate the mantle with their art class-made turkeys and pilgrims and there is always a football game playing on television. Gathering around the dining room table and giving thanks are treasured moments. Everyone will be happy on this autumn afternoon.
The Christmas songs start in November and football games reach their peak. The fans will watch football games, any and all football games. They’ll have tailgate parties, bar parties, bets and pools. They’ll dress in brown and orange and paint their faces. Their motto is usually “Wait till next year". I envy their love for the game and the “Brownies”.
And the snow will come. And the grey days too. Goodbye to pedicures, tank tops and short shorts. Hello to boots, scarves and gloves.
This is November in Cuyahoga County. It is unpredictable. It is glorious. It is sad. It is a collection of the favorite days of our youth. It is the sadness of remembering those gone before us. It is the joy of being with family and friends in a warm home. It is goodbye to sunshine.
The sweet warm memories of November will fortify us in the coming winter. We will make it through the winter and see flowers growing again.
Peggy Calvey Patton
Peggy Calvey Patton is a freelance writer. She lives in West Park.