Sunday, 30 October 2011

When we alteration find

"Samhain", I just learned today, translates roughly into "summer's end". As cold as the last week has been (I've been finally driven into wearing coats and capes), this afternoon was sunny and warm. I popped down to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for our infamous "Witches' Fingers". The store was a zig-zagging of carts, each with at least two pumpkins in them.

As has become my tradition in NaBloPoMo's, I've spent a bit of the month going through past journals and checking ancient Octobers. As when checking past Februarys, Septembers, Marches, etc. (October is the seventh month I've NaBloPoMo-ed), this has been an ambivalent exercise. They don't call it "nostalgia" fer nuthin'. It can hurt to look back. So much has vanished forever.

Each time I go diary-diving, I check to see if a theme emerges. It turns out that October is a complicated month. Several possibilities ambush me: "stress", "momentum", "in progress", "aftershock", even "haunted".

I've always thought of October as the month when we establish equilibrium; after the adjustments of September, we hit cruising altitude.

My journals tell a different story. I look at samples of our schedules, particularly when the girls were in preschool and elementary school and wonder how on earth we coped. I see myself sinking under the load of keeping things up and running by myself when the Resident Fan Boy was in another province. And I see worlds crumbling around us: someone close to us had an abortion in a bygone October; another friend lost her pregnancy in another October. A baby born next door died in less than twenty-four hours; we received word that a marriage we had thought impregnable had fallen to pieces.

A theme for October?

It's not all bad, of course. October is cool and colourful and there's the thrill of a long line of Hallowe'ens: my childhood ones and those of my children.

And the sweet, long-lost memories of my girls as very small children. Elder daughter was, at age two, having such a good time at Sunday school that she ordered me to "Go home!" She then decided to soften the dismissal: "Go home, dolling..." Younger daughter in a past October when she was about four or five, snuggled into a towel that had been warmed up for her in the dryer: " love me!" Seeing me looking thoughtful that same month, she tucked herself next to me on the couch: "Don't worry, Mum, it will be all wight..."

And as this present October slides away forever, I find myself thinking of one of my favourite poets, Phyllis McGinley, musing about her own teenaged daughters many years ago:

Neither my friends nor quite my foes,
Alien, beautiful, stern and clannish,
Here they dwell, while the wonder grows:
Where in the world did the children vanish?
Prince, I warn you, under the rose,
Time is the thief you cannot banish.
These are my daughters, I suppose.
But where in the world did the children vanish?

Phyllis McGinley: I should write a post about her, some time...

1 comment:

SOL's view said...

I don't know her work, but the verse is very well written.

Time is indeed a thief.