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January 23rd, 2017

Thoughts of November

By G. E. Shuman
Today I’d like to think about what I think, about the month of November. To me, November is a sort of unexciting month, in many ways. Here in the North it is gray, most days, and that grayness is amplified by the fact that the leaves are off the trees, and all that gray bark on all those naked trees is showing through, all across our state. This saddens me a bit, because I love both the green leaves of summer, and the red and golden ones of fall. At my house those fall leaves have fallen, too, and, when you read this column, I have either spent a day raking them up, or need to do so. My back is either killing me, or it soon will be. Such is life in Vermont.

This increasingly chilly month also makes me think of many good things. As the weather turns colder, there is some sense of, and even some actions, involving a subtle ‘tucking in’ that occurs here, almost ritualistically, at this season. Windows are sealed, air conditioners are stowed away, and wood is stacked and prepared for the coming winter. Other fall rituals also take place up here. Local hunters hone their skills by shooting fake deer and beer cans in the back yard, but some will still blame the sight on their rifle when that big buck gets away. People line up at the tire stores to have their ‘snows’ put on, and discuss how much snow we’re ‘supposed’ to get this year.

The warmth of ‘indoors’ can be a very good, and satisfying thing right now. I think of the scents of the wood fires that heat so many homes here, and of a closeness that is, somehow, borne of, sort of, ‘having to be closer’, within our homes, with our families. In November, each year, we seem to learn all over again how to stay in more, out of the cold. Out come the sweaters and quilts and comforters, to bring comfort when cold winds howl outside our windows.Ę

The scent of those wood fires can be wonderful, this time of year, and, also the scents of kitchens, as more things are cooked there, now, as we northerners abandon the backyard grills of summer. This is the month of the ‘feast of all feasts’ for most families, and of my very favorite holiday, Thanksgiving Day. On that day, a celebration with family, including a table decorated with reminders of fall, usually features the best scents of all, including the unmistakable aroma emanating from the kitchen, of a huge, slowly roasting turkey. Yum!

I suggest that you, just for fun, when that holiday comes, ask the youngest of your group what the word Thanksgiving means. Some might actually say ‘turkey’, as an almost interchangeable ‘T’ word. You then might discuss something we old English teachers would tell them, that Thanksgiving is a compound word made up of the words thanks, and giving. Then have those little ones tell you what each of those words means.Ę

Thanksgiving: a day of giving thanks, and of being truly thankful for all that we have been given. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,” James 1:17, Holy Bible. To me, those gifts are my family, my friends, my home, my career, and my free country. For such things, and others you may name, let us be truly thankful. The best bumper sticker I ever saw, proclaimed: “Gratitude is the best therapy.” Being grateful, being thankful, in the cold and often gray month of November, can really bring out the sunshine!

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