Archive for October 18th, 2011

Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are fallin’
To the sound of the breezes that blow
An’ I’m trying to please to the callin’
Of your heart strings that play soft and low
And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush.
  –  Van Morrison, “Moondance

The modern disconnect with the natural world which has given rise to neofeminism, “social construction of gender”, the militant “animal rights” movement and many other bizarre beliefs and practices is completely alien to me.  When one lives in the country surrounded by plants and animals it is impossible to reduce the calendar to an official fiction, to pretend that shifting clocks changes the time, to imagine that sex-based characteristics and sexual behaviors are instilled by socialization rather than arising naturally as they do in every other animal, or to believe that things like predatory male sexuality, prostitution, sexual dominance and submission and the physical or behavioral characteristics to which people are attracted derive from “patriarchy” rather than evolution and neurochemistry, and can be eliminated by laws and giving little boys dolls to play with (as discussed in my column of one year ago today).  And once one spends even a short time each day watching dogs, cats, livestock and wildlife it is no longer possible to comfort oneself with the ridiculous idea that humans are a kind of angelic being totally and completely separate from all other forms of biological life, or to adhere to the naïve notion that it is either possible or desirable to completely eliminate from the human world what the “enlightenment police” glibly refer to as “cruelty” (a concept which bears about as much resemblance to actual cruelty as a teddy bear has to a grizzly).

It’s not as easy for the inhabitants of New Orleans to isolate themselves from Nature as it is for the inhabitants of most large cities; it is probably the greenest of all American cities, and the total percentage of ground covered with concrete there is very low indeed.  The living Earth beneath the city does not accept her bondage lightly, and constantly expresses her displeasure by undermining houses, creating holes in the roadways, and introducing water into every place which is not hermetically sealed.  Nor do the other life-forms who share the environment respect man-made borders; insects, reptiles and small mammals brazenly invade human dwellings on a scale unheard-of elsewhere, and even the plants slowly creep in while nobody is watching and destroy whatever gets in their way.  And I haven’t even mentioned the hurricanes.

Despite all this some still try, shutting themselves up in climate-controlled offices all day and climate-controlled houses all night, and moving between the two as quickly as possible.  I honestly think they’re in the minority, though, or at least they used to be, which is probably part of the reason neither neofeminism nor any other belief system which relies on rejection of Nature has ever caught on there (or anywhere else in the Deep South).  And I never even tried to join their number, nor do I think I could have had I wanted to.  The tides which ebb and flow in every woman were always particularly strong in me, and that wasn’t the only natural factor which was; the combination of my sinus problems and the bursitis in a cracked rib (incurred in an auto accident when I was in my late teens) allowed me to predict the weather with a high degree of accuracy for most of my twenties, and as I wrote in my column for last Halloween my spirits have always invariably lifted as autumn arrives and the leaves begin to turn.

October usually enjoys a particular sort of cool weather, a crisp breeziness quite unlike that one might experience on an early spring day or a comparatively warm winter one; this is October Weather, my name for that special atmospheric condition I associate with turning leaves and the imminent arrival of my birthday.  In New Orleans I was often cheated of it; October Weather might not come ‘til November and then immediately depart, or some years it might not appear at all.  In fact, one of the reasons I chose to move to the upper South from my native country was the promise of more distinct seasons, including a long, colorful autumn.  The odd, late, chaotic autumns we’ve had the past few years due to the changing climate have caused me considerable annoyance, but they’re still more dependable than what I got in New Orleans so I reckon I can’t complain.  But when that weather did arrive I was filled with a sort of wild, witchy joy; I wanted to stay out late, to suck the fragrant air into my lungs and fly through the night under the harvest moon with my hair streaming behind me.  As a young teen I often sneaked out in the middle of the night to enjoy such weather, and after I arrived at UNO I would wander about the campus on such evenings or ride my bicycle to midnight movies at the Robert E. Lee Theater a few miles away.  More than once I invited my cousin Jeff or whatever boy I was dating to moonlight picnics on such evenings; since UNO was largely a “commuter college” with a low resident population the campus was virtually deserted at night, so we had our pick of sites.

Jeff was a big fan of Van Morrison’s, and there were three of his songs which Jeff particularly associated with me:  “Brown-Eyed Girl”, “Tupelo Honey” and the one which forms my epigram; one of the things which let me know that my husband might be “the one” was that he associated those same songs with me.  And though as I age my reaction to October Weather isn’t nearly as strong as it was in my teens and twenties, on clear, cool October nights I still feel the urge to go out and dance in the dry leaves under the moon.

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