On Friday and Saturday Chicago got the biggest November snow storm in 120 years. Which is strange, because for about three weeks November had been doodling along acting like a nice October. Then suddenly there’s a wild mood swing and it feels like we’re in January.
The recent atrocities in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad brought to mind two novels I read a couple of years ago: Shalimar the Clown, by Salman Rushdie; and Birds Without Wings, by Louis de Bernières. Both books are about fictional small towns that contain people of different ethnicities and religions.
These stories are separated by decades and by thousands of miles. However, they both start with communities that enjoy a harmony that, while imperfect, allows for occasional friendship, love, even intermarriage across religious and ethnic lines . It also allows a subtle blurring of the distinctions between the two groups.
In the normal course of events, November is one of the two most dismal months of the year. At least, in my part of the world. An inky blackness falls by 5 PM, the leaves are dead, and a penetrating chill is in the air. (The other most dismal month is February.)
On our second day visiting friends near Baltimore, we visited the battlefield at Gettysburg, which sprawls over a large area of fields, woods, and hills in southeast Pennsylvania. Pretty much the whole thing is included in the National Military Park.
It was a warm October day, though fairly overcast. We drove through the suburbs of Baltimore, then Pennsylvania farmland.