Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks for November

Don’t think I’ll ever want to go south for the winter. I’m a New Englander. As such, I savor the smell of each new season. Though I’ve experienced sixty of each, I love the feel - the changing light, the scents wafting on the breeze. I love the crunch of new snow underfoot, and when I feel it for the first time each winter, memories of all the similar sensations from previous years come right back, and I feel that this is where I belong.Smart's Hill in November

Late November sun illuminates but doesn’t warm much. There just isn’t as enough of it. What there is doesn’t last as long and seems more precious as a result. In July we take it for granted, but not during these short days. We who live in the woods become more aware of sun at this time because leaves have dropped from most of the hardwoods except for oaks and beeches. Its angle in the sky is lower too so it illuminates the exposed bone structure of those hardwoods. After the brilliant color of October’s foliage, we see hardwoods as grayish frames. Smooth bark on upper branches shows light gray against darker gray shadows. On a distant hillside, a thousand skeletal treetops mesh into soft grays interspersed with dark greens of pine groves.

Animals and plants know to prepare for winter when late fall is evident all around. Some humans know too but others remain unaware of the changing season - insulated from nature in buildings, their sense of the world filtered through television or computer screens they stare at all day. They don’t hear wind rattle branches, only sounds produced in studios - electronically filtered through magnetized speakers. No smells come with electronic sights and sounds - no feelings either except for whatever has been stored away from past experiences.Kezar Lake looking north from Pleasant Point in November

November has been warm and peaceful around here this year. For three consecutive days, Kezar Lake was so smooth and tranquil that just being around it was calming. Water mirrored sky and shore more perfectly than I’ve never seen, and so quietly the sound of my camera’s shutter seemed to echo.Looking northeast toward Quisisana

November also brings Thanksgiving. To Whom do we give thanks? When I was teaching, I’d ask students that question and most of them would say it was “Indians.”

“Where did you learn that?” I’d ask.

“In school,” they’d answer. That’s because God is persona non grata in public schools and has been so for decades. American history is being distorted to push God out - with consequences beyond historical ignorance. But that’s for another column.

Thanksgiving is a time for Americans foster an attitude of gratitude, focusing on what we have rather than what we’d like to have.That’s a good thing, especially in these challenging economic times. We’re more likely to be thankful for simple things like a warm home, a job, good health and the presence of loved ones.For all this, I'm thankful

That’s especially true in my family this year, it being only a few weeks since “little” brother Paul was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer. He begins chemotherapy as I write. Family and community are pulling together to support Paul and his family of wife and seven children. He’s self-employed in the plumbing and heating business and we often talk early mornings since he does all that work on the properties I manage. He’s a big, jolly guy always quick with a joke. He told me he’s going to be “Chemo-Boy” this winter and I said “How about we call you “Kemo-sabe”?Paul with daughter, Aimee

He laughed, though his throat was sore after removal of a cancerous tonsil. Radiation follows chemotherapy and laughing will be more painful - but if I know Paul, that won’t stop him. He’ll laugh through his eyes.

A benefit supper for him and his family will be held at the Lovell Fire House - intersection of Hatch’s Hill Road and Main Street in Lovell Saturday, December 3rd from 4:00-7:00 pm. Spaghetti - with and without meat - rolls, dessert for $8.00 per person.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Bradley said...

Best wishes to Paul.

11/22/11, 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How insipid. Gag me.

11/22/11, 10:34 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Hard to believe that some ignoramus could post a negative comment about that column. But , they certainly are out there in droves. Best wishes to your brother , Tom. Glad you are on our side.

11/22/11, 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Ron said...

The refusal to teach American history as it really was had already begun when I retired from public school teaching 28 years ago. Now, even the teachers don't know it. I retired 5 years sooner than you did, and I don't regret it. my grandchildren are or were home schooled or went to private schools, with my approval.

11/22/11, 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Paul in Raleigh said...

Wish we could be there.

11/22/11, 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Winston Smith said...

It's dire times that make you really think about what is important in life. Despite what anyone believes about this crazy world we live in there is no excuse for any human being's health to be treated as a commodity.
I believe your brother should get top notch care from physicians who value their talents and purpose in life rather than a six figure salary, or, better yet, worrying about repaying ridiculous student loans. I myself recently went through a similar family struggle and was truly sickened at the state of health care in this country. Despite what insurance you may have a serious illness can easily bankrupt a family. I

That is not acceptable in this country!! Where are our values and ethics? The dollar trumps a person's health?

I hope your brother gets a speedy recovery and I would urge looking at alternative treatments---you never know--after all, this is a for profit system, makes you wonder???

11/22/11, 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Texas Transplant said...

I thank you for the description of November in New England. It brings back some good memories. I recall one Thanksgiving when we were living in New Hampshire, it was so warm that we went swimming in the Saco River. Later, we were truly thankful for a warm dinner with family and friends.

Positive thoughts are with your brother and his family.

11/22/11, 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is your brother Tom. No further comments are necessary. I can only I wish him well.

11/23/11, 6:58 AM  
Blogger Average American said...

Here's hoping for a quick and complete recovery for your brother and that you and the whole family had a good and memorable Thanksgiving.

11/26/11, 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and no "thank you"...Par for the course.

Unbelievably selfish and narrow minded.

12/2/11, 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Such a great article which most Animals and plants know to prepare for winter when late fall is evident all around. Some humans know too but others remain unaware of the changing season insulated from nature in buildings, their sense of the world filtered through television or computer screens they stare at all day. Thanks for sharing this article.

3/23/12, 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was looking at Google Images, longing to find comfort from pictures of home. I am lost in Florida. I left New England, against my better judgment, based on the promise of a better life.
I knew I would miss friends and family. I knew I would miss the seasons. What I didn't know was how much I would never feel comfortable here, or better said "I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong". I am trying to find me way back.
I enjoyed your article. Your brother Paul reminds me of someone very dear to me. Paul is in my thoughts. I am praying that he is doing well.
A Concerned Lass.

9/10/13, 12:26 PM  

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