Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Finding hope in November #phenology

We've just about made it through November, 2016, a month full of surprises. Several of the events this month, and their continuing repercussions, make me very glad that I serendipitously came across Tuesdays in the Tallgrass [added to sidebar] and this epigram:
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” – attributed to Kurt Vonnegut
I will return to it often, I suspect, during the next few years. For now, I hope, however, that this November isn't typical of whatever our "new normal" will become.

November's beauty can seem cloudy at times
November's beauty can seem cloudy at times
Photo by J. Harrington

You probably remember that November is supposed to be gashkadino-giizis, the Ice Is Forming Moon. Perhaps this year it was further north or west [Standing Rock Water Protectors in snow storm] or at higher elevations, but not locally. There are still flocks of Canada geese sitting on ice-free local ponds. I suspect, but don't know, that black bears have denned up and deer are finishing up their mating season. Many November wombs already carrying a promise of next Spring's new life.

The inimitable Studs Terkel, in his book of interviews titled Hope Dies Last, Keeping Faith in Troubled Times, gives us "an alternative history of the American century." I find it encouraging that Terkel, in his own way, delivers a message similar to Vonnegut's. He writes at the very beginning "Hope has never trickled down. It has always sprung up." Joyce Sutphen also reminds us that, in November, hope is foundational, "no matter what." I'm already hopeful about what December may bring we can bring to each other this December. How about you?

November, 1967

by Joyce Sutphen

Dr. Zhivago was playing at the Paramount
Theater in St. Cloud. That afternoon,
we went into Russia,

and when we came out, the snow
was falling—the same snow
that fell in Moscow.

The sky had turned black velvet.
We’d been through the Revolution
and the frozen winters.

In the Chevy, we waited for the heater
to melt ice on the windshield,
clapping our hands to keep warm.

On the highway, these two things:
a song from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
and that semi-truck careening by.

Now I travel through the dark without you
and sometimes I turn up the radio, hopeful
the way you were, no matter what.

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