Saturday, November 3, 2012


November. If I were to choose one month to describe the place I live or the songs I sing or the stories I write it would be November: the trees bare, the ground gray and tawny and umber, the sky at last visible through the branches. In other words: stark. Like Stark Road, which joins MacArthur a quarter-mile uphill, named after Molly Stark, the revolutionary war hero. And like Route 9, the federal highway at the foot of our road also known as “The Molly Stark Trail” because it is the route Molly walked two-hundred-plus years ago when it was no more than a trail. And so MacArthur—this road I live on, named after my grandparents and their determined hubris to make a home out of an abandoned homestead up an otherwise empty logging road—is a bridge between The Molly Stark Trail and Stark Road. A bridge, then, between Stark’s staccato sounds: sharp-pointed t’s and k’s like the whetstones, used for sharpening knives, that line the brook our road runs along. But Molly? What muted loveliness is in that name! M and l’s and rolling vowels.  And November? It has my favorite letter in it—v—and my favorite vowel—o. It’s thus the bare trees and the cold ground but the woodstove, too.  It’s the wool sweater and the leather boots and the crunch of leaves and the walk through them. It’s deer in the garden and hunting season’s rifles and the last stray geese. And that three-syllable lilting song-ness of it—No-vem-ber? Is the muted lullaby, the quiet, still, clarity this month allows before the bright frenzy of December with its soft c and all the glittering s’s of “Christmas lights.” And so, November: the great window, in all my favorite colors. Through which the light—gray and clear and luminous—makes its way through the dark (stark) branches above.