Our house has been tucked into the base of Cemetery Hill for so long it is not hard to imagine horse-drawn farm wagons lumbering past, and my children were the third generation of our family to toss maple spinners in the front yard. All of which is to say that our home belongs as much to the past as the present; and that has always felt exactly right.
But, particularly in November, the line between seems rather blurred.
November is the month of All Souls, and the seventeenth was my grandfather’s birthday, as well. This late in the season, there is already a bite in the wind, and nightfall comes early, twilight seeping through the blinds and throwing plum colored slats across my living room floor. It’s not hard to envision my younger self sprawled on the carpet with siblings and cousins, chin in hands, while my grandparents showed vacation slides.
“How are you?” My grandmother’s voice, forever paired in my memory with the music of front door chimes. Short little woman, she wore flowered dresses and round spectacles, and on November seventeenth she would have made a two-layer cake and kept if from our incautious fingers by means of a pink plastic carrier.
Funny what your mind chooses to keep. I could pick that cake caddy out of a hundred others.
But often the smallest retrospection is the one that stays with us the longest. Scent of butter cream frosting, sound of first sleet ticking on windowpanes. Comforting backdrop of adult voices. We keep these things in the whirlpool of memory and forget we even have them until they surface again.
Usually in the fall, always in November.
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