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November, with its changes, concludes with fireworks

November, with its changes, concludes with fireworks November, with its changes, concludes with fireworks

The 15th chapter of ‘Little Women’ opens with Meg complaining that ‘November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year.’ Jo chimes in with ‘That’s the reason I was born in it.’ I remember agreeing with Meg at one time when I was younger, but not anymore. I love November.
My mother, sister and daughter were all born in November, and they were and are not very disagreeable. But the real reason I love this time of year is that quality in the light and air that I call ‘melancholic gratefulness.’ These two words come as close as I can get to that feeling (that isn’t sadness exactly) when the leaves have fallen, the wind is blowing low slung, gray clouds across the sky and you are alone outside around dusk with the time to think. I honestly feel that the trees are talking to you and waving goodbye for a bit.
This month, after celebrating 200 years of life in Corydon for the last 10 months, the birthday party is going to shut down with a burst of color and light at the end of Nov. 29. The party will not return for another 100 years, and I have a melancholic gratefulness for being part of this one but, unfortunately, being forced to miss the next one.
Light Up Corydon, the big Christmas kick-off on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, will have Zambelli fireworks downtown along with the usual and even bigger pomp and circumstance of Santa coming to town. You can buy commemorative Zimmerman Glass Ornaments at the Blaine H. Wiseman Visitor Center, Butt Drugs and the Christmas Goose. Also, there will be copies of the Harrison County promotional video ‘A Big Land in a Small Place’ that premiered in January at the Birthday Ball on sale at the visitors’ center. These will make great gifts of memory for the first year of the next 200.
I think it was entirely appropriate that a beloved figure in our town’s history decided to pass on this November. Fred Griffin was a gentle soul with all the philosophy that comes from a life lived in quiet dignity and humor. His life’s work in history and oral tradition were gifts to us all. Coincidentally, his beloved steamboat, The Delta Queen, carried her last load of overnight passengers during the week that Fred died. He and his wife, Eleanor, rode the Delta Queen more than once. Their love for the authenticity of this 82-year-old paddle wheeler never left them. The Delta Queen’s final voyage from Memphis to New Orleans with empty berths ended on the day of Fred’s funeral, Nov. 2. His son, Patrick, waited up until 1 a.m. while standing on the family farm’s high bluff over the Ohio River to see the last pass of the Delta Queen heading downriver. November was the appropriate month for these two lifelong friends to end their days. We are grateful for their existence and melancholic about their absence.
This November, I was grateful for a grand scale election that changed our nation’s aura in the world, but the experience was tempered by the overwhelming obstacles we are going to face. Again, the elation must be balanced with that nostalgic feeling of good times gone, hard times looking likely and a reckoning that must be faced by a country that has lived beyond its means.
And finally Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates the end of harvest. The days of plenty are drawing to a close, and we must look ahead to a winter of sacrifice and dark, inward musings. Those things we are grateful for nearly always have reflective shadows. I am grateful for the family and friends sitting around the table full of bubbling food and conversation, but at the same time I know of job losses approaching, health issues pending and changes that I reluctantly may have to accept.
‘Little Women’ ends in late October with the March family sitting under harvested apple trees, remembering those days gone past and looking to the future. It is possible to be both gratefully happy and deeply nostalgic at the same time.
That is the gift of November and particularly for us all in this year of 2008.