Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Autumn: Five Vignettes.

(1) Driving and admiring colors–red, orange, yellow, brown, purple–I go around a curve and am startled by the stark white of the trunk and bare limbs of a sycamore tree.

(2) First day of late afternoon of early dark.  The sky is a dark orange near sunset.  Walking, I hear a trinity of three low pitched vibrating short clucks of a crow high above on a telephone pole.  One as I approached, one as I passed under, one as I passed by.

(3) I walk pass small piles of raked leaves, and it is all I can do to keep from kicking through them.

(4) Overnight, it seemed, Sanders, the young red maple tree, dropped all of its leaves except two.  A Charlie Brown tree?

(5) My favorite color of the season is brown: the rich brown of oak leaves, the light brown with dark flecks of the shells of pecans.

All Saints Day.  Two Reunions.  I drive to Mt. Olive for a reunion with three first cousins and their spouses.  We go downtown for lunch in a restaurant and return to the home for desserts.  There is a sharing of gifts from kitchens, gardens, and markets:  pecans, kale, tomatoes, green peppers, fig preserves, sorghum syrup, green pepper jellies.  I leave in time to go to Mass for All Saints, during which two votive candles I donated in memory of my parents and brother were lighted and will burn for a year.  Family joys and remembrances of the living and deceased, two celebrations, one day.

Nonfiction.  Matthew Bunson, Angels A to Z:  A Who’s Who of the Heavenly Host (1996).  The book is an alphabetical listing and identifications of angels, ideas associated with angels, and brief articles.  Included are angels from Babylonian, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Greek, Roman,, Taoist, Tibetan, and Zoroastrian traditions.  I particularly enjoyed mentions of the use of angels in the Christian Bible and by writers, including Dryden, Goethe, Byron, Dante, Poe, Milton, and Longfellow.  The book is well-illustrated, and there are mentions of artists influenced by the lore of angels, such as Durer, Dore, and Blake.  Christian writers who have contributed to angel lore are mentioned: the writer(s) of the Books of Enoch and the Gospel of St. Bartholomew, Thomas Aquinas, and Dionysius the Areopagite.  Other writers, such as Emanuel Swedenborg and Edgar Cayce, who had visions of angels, are also cited.  It’s a good book for comprehensive or casual reading and for reference.

Fiction.  John Steinbeck, Cannery Row (1945).  It is on my top ten list of favorite pieces of literature, and it is a book I looked forward to teaching.  Although the tone is genial, and often humorous, there is much darkness in the book.  There are three suicides.  There is the story of Frankie, the unwanted, maladroit, and mentally challenged young boy who has to be institutionalized.  There are two characters who have visions, one of frightening emptiness and the other of violence.  There are many incidents of joy.  The short Chapter 14 is a description of two couples at dawn, after a night together, “. . . very tired and very happy.”  Their love and happiness are contrasted to and triumphant over the crabbed, legalistic night watchman, who tries to run them away from private property. It is one of the best celebrations of the joy of love that I know.  The frog hunt is hilarious.  There are beautiful descriptions of setting.  When I taught, I sometimes polled students on their favorite books of the course.  One senior wrote, “I enjoyed Cannery Row for its theme of friendship, and I’ll remember your talk on the meaning of friendship, as it relates to the book and to life.”  Perhaps he has remembered.  I don’t.

Thank you for reading.  I hope your week will be good.

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About billwednesdayblog

Retired high school English and French teacher.
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