October 5th, 2007


Poetry Friday -- The Witching Hour

October was my paternal grandmother's favorite month. 
It was the month she was born. 
It was the month she was a newlywed.
It was the month the leaves turned from green to gold.

Plus, Mame was a witch -- or so she said. 
She hung rustic-looking brooms on her kitchen walls and, for a midwestern of the protestant persuasion, she had a keen sense of the mystical. I'm recalling a certain seance at one of the old family lake cottages... there was the bat house in her yard... and Halloween was more than mere chocolate and child's play. She elevated it to something mysterious and dramatic -- from the decor to her accounts of midnight rides. 

Oh, coincidentally, Mame was also an actress. I remember her rehearsing for repertory performances of On Golden Pond and Love Letters, the latter of which shocked my granddad with its risque language. She devoted big chunks of time and money to helping restore the grand old theater in her hometown, and no family summer was ever complete without a bust-up party talent show, each generation trying desperately to out-shine the others.

Last fall, at 89, my grandmother slipped away.
No surprise, it was in October.
No surprise, too, that we played charades that first night we all gathered at her house without her.

Today, I'm in Texas. It will be 90 degrees by noon and there's not a gold leaf in sight. 
I think when you say goodbye to someone you really love, there are always a few things in life that just don't fit quite right.

Still, heat and landscape be damned, it's October. 
Here and everywhere. 
My dramatic, bewitching grandmother's favorite month. 
This charm is in her honor...

Song of the Witches

by William Shakespeare 

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. 

Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn and caldron bubble. 
Cool it with a baboon's blood, 
Then the charm is firm and good.