The Almost- November MonthThere's an old English ballad called "The World Turned Upside Down" that legend says was played on fife and drum at the surrender of Cornwallis to Washington at Yorktown. The song originated in 1651 ,when Cromwell banned the traditional celebrations of Christmas in England because of their pagan connections.
It probably wasn't played at Yorktown, though. There is no historical mention of the song in connection with the event until 1881, a hundred years later. Of course we know Lord Cornwallis declined to attend his own surrender, and his representative refused to surrender to Washington anyway, handing over the sword to the French commander Rochambeau instead. Washington didn't seem to mind, apparently viewing that last piece of denial in the overall perspective of victory.
Yorktown did change the world. And whether one little song was played on that day, or whether it merely came to be symbolic of the spirit of the day, we can't tell now. Maybe some soldier in the back of the ranks slyly whistled a few bars and was told to shut up before he messed up the whole deal- we'll never know.
I often think about this little song this time of year, because it seems to me the world is turning upside down. It's not that I dislike autumn- I don't. It's just that everything about my focus changes. It's that the year is winding down, just as winter is winding up. And it always seems to come on much faster than I had intended. It's almost Halloween already, and I'm not quite used to the fact that the sun comes up too late and the rains are making the days dark and chilly. Seems like it ought to still be September.
The Almost-November phase for me also means I re-evaluate my life, priorities, and particularly my writing. Inevitably I've slipped over the summer. I'm behind schedule once again. True, I'm one of those people whose mood sags in the winter months, sometimes badly, and I don't look forward to that, but when I'm in gayer spirits in the warmer months, I have this sometimes unfortunate tendency to do lots of fun things instead of what I "should" be doing.
So October starts the catch-up time. I used to be in a rush to complete my manuscripts in time for the Golden Heart. Now there are deadlines, promised submissions, and the need to complete stories has become a compulsion all by itself. It's like getting the house ready for winter. Got to get things done before the snow falls (which in this part of the country can be any time between November and next year). I'm like that really fat squirrel that has been testing my bedroom window screen lately.
I suppose it's just a natural part of the yearly cycle. you'd think I'd be used to it by now. At least the squirrel has been storing pine nuts all summer. You can tell by the size of his belly he's pretty well prepared for the coming cold. So maybe I'm a little late, but I guess you'd say I'm storing up nuts for the winter.
Does autumn put you in a different frame of mind? Does it have these same plus-minus feelings for you?