I live close to the River Plym; an area of contrasts with the busy Embankment Road, railway line and yet calm, unbridled views over Saltram park. Occasionally when time permits (and usually at weekends), I take a very early walk close to the river to watch the sun rise. Now the night's are drawing in and the morning's have a tardy start of light, the moment to catch the sun coming up is later than I would like but on a morning such as we had today, it is beautiful. The weather was exceptional - just like high summer or Midsummer's Day. The hills looking up beyond Plympton were shaded in soft violets, mauves and apricots with a chiffon white mist rising in front of the boat house at Saltram Point. A wide range of birds from Oyster-Catchers, to Plovers to Warblers swept and swung over the high tide which gently lapped the shore. Rare species often gather here to the delight of Ornithologists.
At that point I was brought to mind of a typical November day. Grey, wet, windy, cold and dank. Yet today was none of these. My late father (Bernard Snell, who was born in November 1922) was a sun worshipper by nature and hated the winter. He could never bear the long dark cold days and often referred to November as 'Suicide Month'. He felt trudging out to work in the dark and wet, returning home in the same conditions and spending much of his time jammed in the hull of a ship (he was a Ships' Welder), meant day light and sunshine were hugely important to him. Additionally his awful experiences of being in Plymouth throughout the Blitz meant that darkness could mean death.
Below is an extract of Novembrists from the wonderful collection of poems by
Sean O'Brien called November.
Reactionary elements combining in the dark
To undermine the decent light of trade
With futile knowledge of the spirit's appetite
For somewhere in between this world
And its discarded shadows. O Novembrists!
At the year's death walking to no purpose
But to walk among the rutted leaves
And dripping hawthorns, in behind
The sleeping yards and the flooded lawns
And air-raid shelters piled with mattresses and comics,
Now I see it is my parents that I walk beside, ..........
If my father were alive today, he would have smiled at the irony.