It's November, that time between sandwiched between the fun and spookiness of Halloween and the abundant Thanksgiving feast, the November season when autumn remains and temperatures turn colder.
Autumn is my favorite season of the year but by now, especially this year, the flamboyant and bright fall colors have faded. Many of the leaves have descended from the trees to cover the earth and grass, leaving the branches stark and bare. Some of the days are gray now and dark falls earlier so that I go home from work in the dark. Some days are gloomier than others, some Novembers more somber than the average.
A year ago in November, my family life took a drastic shift. It began with my husband, Roy, and some health issues that resulted in emergency spinal surgery the day before Thanksgiving last year. The huge Butterball turkey I had bought for our feast got cooked but never eaten. Although at the time it seemed we would regain our normalcy as we moved through the holidays, celebrating Christmas with a particular kind of joy, the change has proven permanent. Since that first one, my husband has undergone three more major spine related surgeries and suffered additional health problems. Between last November and this, he's spent more time in hospital and medical facilities than at home.
We will have a feast. What day it will be is not and but that Roy will remain absent from the table is another certainty.
But, Thanksgiving is next week, not this.
For now, it's November and the last slow week before the holidays kick off in earnest.
I borrowed the title of this week's column from a song from a favorite singer, Gordon Lightfoot. In his classic ballad, based on a real event, 'The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald'. Roy and I have both been long time fans of Lightfoot and his music. I'm fond of ballads from all eras and usually the older the history, the better. The Edmund Fitzgerald was a freighter ship that sank in November 1975.
Lightfoot immortalized the event in his song. I could share the full lyrics or tell the story but those who also find it interesting can find it easily enough thanks to the internet. The song for those who want to hear it again or experience it for the first time can find it on YouTube or find it on CD.
It's been more than forty years since the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in the waters of Lake Superior, taking 29 lives in the process.
As a writer who has always been intrigued with history as the foundation for the present, it seems worth noting the event more than forty years later. I'll leave you with the lines of the first stanza of the song to ponder as we work through these gloomy days of November.
"The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'gitche gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early," - from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Gordon Lightfoot, copyright 1976.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a writer, author, and a reporter for The Neosho Daily News. She has written a weekly column since 2004.