What is it about November?

RoyI hated November growing up in Greenwood Center, Maine. The leaves had fallen; tree limbs were like skeletal fingers reaching for the sky and it seemed the sky was always gray. That, in turn, took the beautiful blue of July’s Twitchell Pond and turned it a dismal color. Every day seemed like it could be a snow day and eventually, yes, the flakes would fall.

It seems , at least in my memories, that we always had a snow bank by Thanksgiving. Hunters were wishing for a tracking snow and suddenly near the end of the month , there was enough in the door yard for a small bank and a little shoveling.

The only bright spot was Thanksgiving and we were busy at school cutting around our hands, for the turkey feathers and carefully coloring inside the lines for decorations. Our own Thanksgiving at the little  house was less than spectacular as my mother waited for Dad to come home from hunting before we could eat.

Each year was the same. Dad went to Lester Cole’s and bought a hen and home he came swinging the bird for our “feast.” That morning, he’d leave for his hunting trip and Ma got the wood stove going full blast in the kitchen. As I got older, I was recruited to help with the “bird.” Dunking it in boiling water, pulling feathers, opening up both lids on one side of the stove and sticking the bird into the fire and coals to “singe” the pin feathers. Ma and I stood side by side pulling the pin feathers out and finally, in went her stuffing and into the oven. I remember the smell the most…nothing can equal the smell of cleaning a chicken ready for roasting from stage one!

We may have had a pie for dessert, but I remember most the red jello which we kids loved because, of course, the jiggle, and since there was no electricity, we put it outside to set and usually, yes, there was a small bank of snow in which it rested. What a treat!!

By the time Dad returned from the first act of his hunting day and sat down, the six plates were on the flowered oil cloth and chairs pulled up. I do  not think one Thanksgiving ever passed that my father did not refer to the chicken as having “roadrunner”. He’d pass the plate and ask if we did not want another piece of “roadrunner” and Ma never failed to say, “stop that, now.”

Across the pasture field, my grandparents and Uncle Louis were having their own little meal, though I am not sure how much they celebrated the day. In the picture is my Uncle Roy, complete with his trusty gun, and I am sure on this November day he was out trying to find a deer.  The Martins took great store in their hunting abilities and I am sure he would rather have spent his day tracking deer than eating Thanksgiving dinner.

So many memories of November and yet, through all the years, I have never really become friends with the month. It remains stark to me and after the one day of feast, it seems forever before a new year begins. March strikes me as the month that teases , telling us winter is over and little green sprouts appear. The next day we have a white new coating of snow.

I will get through this month as I always do. There is no Twitchell Pond and most of the folks in Greenwood Center are gone now, but I shall try and be content with the memories. On Thanksgiving Day, I will have some “roadrunner” to remember my Dad.

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4 thoughts on “What is it about November?

  1. Wonderful story, as always, Sandy. You evoke old memories of my own long forgotten, like cutting around our hands in school and then coloring the fingers for the feathers. When going through some of my mother’s things, I found the turkey we were talking about. She had saved it and it had a 1947 tiny calendar pasted on the turkey breast. The inscription read, Love, Sharon Holbrook…like she didn’t know my last name. 🙂

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