I had finished my breakfast and was sitting with my face pressed against the cold window glass, while staring out at the blizzard of colored leaves hurtling at me.

It’s November again, and so the darkening begins. Your children will go to school in the dark and come home in the dark.

As it does without fail each fall, November rears its ugly face, and reminds me of that poem by Thomas Hood I had to read aloud in Mr. Brown’s English class when no one else wanted to, and Rosemary pointed to me so I was trapped.

“No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds … November!”

“What are you doing?” She asked as She passed by with the laundry.



“Well, you had better stop thinking and start writing.”

J.P. Devine tells a story beside his wife Kay Joly Devine at Community Voices at Ostrove Auditorium at the Diamond Building at Colby College in Waterville on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

It’s a joke of course. (Over the years she’s inhaled my New Yorker sense of humor.)

But she’s right. I must stop negative thinking. It’s done nothing but give me sleepless nights, acid stomach, and a cold sore on the corner of my lip.

There’s a lot to think about these days, and most of it is troubling. I am, of course, addicted to all the political talk shows with their maddening kaleidoscope of faces and voices that have, over the past three years, given me eye tics that I thought I had overcome in the ’70s.

But today, with face pressed against the window pane, I think about the plants on the deck that have to be dealt with before the frost comes and kills them.

My son-in-law Rick potted them for me when last he was here, but he is now shooting a series in the burning hills of Los Angeles for Ron Howard (who used to be “Opie” on the Andy Griffith show and is now the Prince of the streets of Hollywood) so Rick doesn’t have time this morning to think about my plants.


At the moment, he’s busy thinking about the possibility of one of the myriad blazes consuming California coming toward his and my daughter’s home in Pasadena.

He did take time to write to make sure I get the plants inside or cover them.

Sorry. We’re talking about six heavy Japanese pots full of wet mud. As I suffer the pain from one bad knee and a similar sensation in my shoulder, I suspect the plants will die soon.

As I sit here continuing to think about this week’s column, I witness a swarm of young Colby runners in shorts and T-shirts buzzing by on the walk below.

J.P. Devine and Kay Joly Devine are seen together in 1959, two years before getting married. J.P. is seen in costume as Billy the Kid. Photo courtesy of J.P. Devine

Each of the young men are infuriatingly fit and turn my thinking to memories of the “Hollywood Me,” that are frozen in yellow aspic in my brain’s temporal lobe.

Even here in Maine in my late middle age years, I forced myself to join the gym to push and pull, jog on machines and lift various weights. As I puffed and huffed, I recalled another favorite poem that haunted me in my youth, and now has become my song of the day:


“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Oh God, have I done enough raging this year? I sit in front of the big screen TV each night and rage. I rage at the rain and loss of color, I rage that Stella Atoire’s six-pack has gone up a full buck.

Hold on, the next stanza is even more frightening. I speak it aloud in reverent tones and melt the frost on the window pane with my words.

“Because their words had forked no lightning they do not go gentle into that good night.”

I must now get about forking before she comes back and asks me once again what I’m doing. And I have to reply, “I’m forking, what does it look like I’m doing?”

As the runners vanish and wet leaves plaster their dying bodies against the glass, I wonder, have my words really forked enough lightning among my aging readers? Well, I’m not going gentle into that good night until they have.

Now, about those pots.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

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