Wednesday, October 27, 2010

O, October

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
Sonnet 73

It was ten years ago, in another October, that my dad and I took a driving trip through Virginia.

I was researching Civil War sites for a screenplay I was writing and Dad wanted to come along. We started in Manassas and drove our rental car along the highways and byways of a state in autumnal glory.

We overnighted in small motels or grand bed-and-breakfasts. We stood on hillsides and watched Civil War scenes reenacted by gung-ho hobbyists the likes I'd never encountered.

Dad and I argued about my driving skills and his politics. We ended our days with me drinking wine, him drinking Coke and the boys of summer winding down their season on a hotel television.

We hiked leaf-laden pathways and golden fields where long-lost bullet casings lay buried under fertile ground. I took a midnight walk, sat on a slope in a Manassas field and imagined I could hear the rebel yell as Northern bullets screeched overhead.

And I thought about how this was likely the last car trip, or trip of any kind, I'd be taking with my dad, a man who lived to travel.

O, October, a melancholy time of wood smoke and letting go. O, October, a time when I am filled to the brim with hope and new beginnings and terrified they may be as conjured up as the voices I heard on a Virginia bluff.

O, October, are you a beginning or an end? Or is your purpose to confuse and jumble?

This October is audition month for The Shakespeare Club. As I meet one-on-one with excited, wishing children, it is a time to set aside my angst and wear the wisdom of a Montgomery black willow in Virginia as she drops her leaves and prepares for renewal.

October is simply another time.

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