Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Time Change

  James Wright, an American poet (1927-1980), wrote these opening lines to his poem called “Beginnings”:
The moon drops one or two feathers into the field. 
The dark wheat listens. 
Be still. 
There they are, the moon’s young, trying 
Their wings.
That sounds like an autumn poem. The moon above leaf-less trees, glowing over bare gardens and fields prickly with dead stalks. Are the feathers leaves or snowflakes? But the title is Beginnings and this the month of endings. Summer is over, winter has not yet begun. Thanksgiving and Halloween are behind us while Christmas is a month away. 
November is a month full of an energy that is unique to it alone. This is an energy that produces heat in houses and thicker coats on cattle. November announces the true change of season, the transition from light to dark, by arriving with great gusts of wind that send leaves and lawn chairs tumbling across empty yards. 
Wood burns in furnaces and the smell of wood smoke wafts through the early morning air. Leaves burn in fire pits, and maybe one last bonfire on the last sunny day that lingers in the night. 
That’s the smell of November. 
Defy it with a single pink rose snipped from the smallest rosebush and placed in a vase on the dining room table. A remembrance of summer, a memory of long humid days, of evening waterings, of flowers thick on the stems, of cold white wine on the back deck.
Yet November persists, sweeps those thoughts away with its broom of bluster. The woods behind the house are stripped of their leaves, bare poplars splayed against the evergreens. The canoe, optimistically left outside for one last run, is drained of water and sodden leaves, and braced against the garage for November’s tumultuous reign.
November can be defied by the great Manitoba maple in front of the house: sunlight illuminates the red veins of its still-green leaves, whipped by the wind but refusing to let go. A final show of resistance.
Like a red canoe lying open to the sky.

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