The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
November 20, 2021
Oh, how leaves fall.
How they blow
tumbling down streets like mischief.
Hues of yellow, orange to brown.
Soft to crisp
the leaves and air.
Shall we gather our thoughts and take measure of where we have landed since our resolutions in early January? Both congratulations and regret are probably in the mix. It is a time to adjust our expectations before winter wraps around us, and the holidays descend in perpetual motion. First comes Thanksgiving. How apropos. It is a privilege to have such an opportunity for celebration. To put aside a whole day for being thankful.
If we are lucky, we will make or share a feast, and enjoy family and friends gathered around us. On our Thanksgiving, people take turns around the table sharing a moment, an experience of being thankful this year. Inevitably, the last person says they are thankful we can now eat! And we do.
The book “In November” by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Jill Kastner captures special moments of autumn, from turning leaves to actual celebration of Thanksgiving, and the activities of nature and wildlife as they prepare for the winter cold. Animals spend a good portion of time, from the end of summer through fall, gathering bits and pieces to build shelter and piling up food to sustain until days warm into spring. In some ways, we do the same. We put away summer clothes and bring out warmer ones. Pull down the cozy blankets and have them ready. Some stack piles of wood for blazing fires. And of course, there is the ever beloved supply of hot cocoa. If you are lucky, you remember the marshmallows. And luckier still, put in a good store of graham crackers, chocolate squares and extra marshmallows for roasting! Don’t forget the long sticks!
Lola and Adam Schaefer (illustrated by Fran Preston Gannon) present the value of an acorn in their picture book. “Because of an Acorn” shows that their life cycle reaches far past growing a new tree. It becomes a part of an ongoing ecosystem, where the acorn sustains from animal to animal in the cycle of life. Acorns were an important part of the winter survival of our local Kawaiisu tribe. I once watched the process of leaching acorns and grinding them into a viable and sustaining food. There was thankfulness ingrained within these actions, a connection to the earth and nature. Not all food is fast and easy.
“Thanksgiving in the Woods,” by Phyllis Aldurf with illustrations by Jenny Lovlie, comes with mixed reviews from readers ... just as in years of late, history versus stories of pilgrims and Native Americans get mixed reviews. But I like this book because it is about real people now, who gather each year and set up tables in the woods and prepare a feast of thankfulness that they share with family and friends. The point of Thanksgiving today is our giving thanks and the book captures that well with its examples of how to make a sharing feast.
While “Night of Miracles” by Elizabeth Berg is not necessarily a Thanksgiving-themed book, it does start in October, when the days get shorter and colder. And it does showcase a caring community during hardships and challenges. It is because of the spirit of Thanksgiving itself that I chose to include it in this review. Lucille is in the winter of her life at 88. She worries about her neighbors and townsfolk. They are family to her. Life with its forever ups and downs tosses so many into chaos. Can this community protect and hold each other up until safety and security is returned and wounds heal?
Thankfulness comes in many hues, like the colors of fall leaves. Life tosses us around like the wind. We are the leaves that tumble down the street. And in the end, we find chaotic journeys bring us to new places. We gather our family and friends together and share and prepare to follow the star into Christmas and the calendar into a new year. I am making my New Year’s resolution early... to practice thankfulness more faithfully. For I am...truly thankful.
Good books. Good reading.
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.