New Observations at Dawn

Originally published: November 5, 2008

Four years back, creeping young November was all malice and rot. On the third day of that month, a day gray in all its aspects, fallen leaves lay slack on gutters and asphalt, decomposing in a gutless wind amid the litter of summer’s death. 

Today at dawn I walk lightly under a pearly sky, and wonder how I could have been so blind! The leaves at my feet are not dead, but wholly alive in reds and oranges; delicious embers revived by the breath of all who walk this land. They blanket the sidewalk under a maple who has just released her splayed leaves all at once in a giddy exhale. Reflected color bounces off my cheeks, illuminating the air around me as though dappled with gold. The last leaves leap to catch the current and surf the enveloping air. Brave and naked branches stretch against the sky. Glorious November! 

Across the country and the whole world over, people came pouring out into the streets. They sang and danced and embraced. All ages they were, their faces all colors, each amazed, each alight. 

Four years back, my bitterness flowed onto the page, and I apologize with all my heart. Dear Ohio - in truth, our whole magnificent nation – took on a new sweetness as we watched throughout the night. This time, people rose up and came crashing out of their homes. This time fledglings found their voices – and found them to be loud and beautiful! - and we all stood and waited and were cold and drenched and we stayed, we spoke, and raised our hands as one on November 4, 2008. As one.

Four Years back: A Column re-run

Observations at Dawn: November 3, 2004

The wind herds the leaves in pointless circles, stealing the warmth of orange and yellow and depositing brown mummified flesh into the gutters.

Ragged Halloween decorations sway and clatter, grinning skeletons spilling crepe paper innards cleave to lampposts. The sidewalks are slippery with shattered pumpkins, their candles toppled, their faces kicked in.

The sky squints, grey and gloating and old.

Acres of blue-haired ladies clutched their Grand Old sample ballots, looking them over. 

Ranks of Grand Old white men stood with set jaws, eyes front in fear, staying the course.

Seventeen percent in 2000. 

Heaven and earth moved in courtship. They danced and rocked and stroked and promised.

Seventeen percent in 2004. 

Class, what do we learn from this? Hey, are you there? Were you ever there, or did the excitement die once the music stopped. Is it true what the grown-ups say about you, about your attention span and your fickle allegiance? Will you forever let the seventeen percent speak for you? Will you ever really rock and roll?

Where were you? What occupied your time yesterday instead of standing up for yourself?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to stay seated. Not this time.

Rights of marriage. Rights of choice. Rights of uniqueness. No rights left untouched. Back! Back in the closet, down the alley, into the cellar! 

From my Cold, Dead, Hands.

We were so close to home, young and old. Now there are miles to go. 

Ohio. Ohio. Ohio. 

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