October Blues

By Georgia Finnegan

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves! – Humbert Wolfe. My October blues push me to go outside, acknowledge summer’s passing, and imbibe in the intrinsic beauty of autumn.  I shiver as my eyes stare into the deeper blue of October skies; I smell the sweet fading scent of my Rhythm and Blues garden flower; I listen to the soft, crackling sound underneath me as my feet swish through dry, fallen leaves.  I anticipate October’s grand finale this year, a blue moon, making its bold and rare appearance on October’s last day.  Two full moons happening during the same month accurately describes a rare occasion, and thus the saying “once in a blue moon.”  I raise a glass and say Salut! to October’s second full moon—a perfect touch to Halloween.

As the autumnal beauty of October comes to a close, and winter’s frosty breath and cold blanket of snow have put my summer garden to bed, October days pulls forth poignant past memories. Celebrating my firstborn son’s birthday brings deeper than deep joy at the end of October, while the untimely death of my loving mother brings heart-twinging sorrow.  My son, now a young man, gave me Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast to read.  It holds an honored spot on top of my books-to-be-read that have piled high in my study this past summer.  One quotation from this book resonates well with me:  You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen….

Another book, House of Large Sizes, written by Ian Graham Leask, my writing coach and publisher has also caught my interest.  With absolutely no reference to ballet or ballet history, I wanted to read his work and see how he uses descriptive words and phrases.  He has helped me immensely with my narrative style.  I often pause in the midst of my writing and reread and rewrite a sentence several times or rewrite a whole paragraph asking myself, “Is my writing descriptive enough to paint the picture that the reader needs to see?”  I also hear my father’s voice, as if he were standing near me, echoing similar coaching, “Georgia Ann, remember writing is rewriting and do not get discouraged.”  Onward into winter, with confidence and courage that my writing will be accomplished, and that…

During my summer’s research on ballet history, three books in particular—Celestial Bodies by Laura Jacobs, The World of Diaghilev by John Percival, and The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky, edited by Romola Nijinsky–caught my eye, and with edifying interest I read them.  However, many more illuminating books remain to be read.  Cooler autumn days made for a gradual drift into the approaching winter season.  I warmly welcomed the call to stay inside, read, research, and fine tune my writing skills.  Soft candlelight glow and a warm mug of coffee in the early morning hours ease me into my writing days.  Late dinners by the natural warmth of a wood-burning fire usher in the needed pause to my daytime writing. “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy….” Albert Camus. My book on Minnesota’s history of ballet will continue to abundantly fill these upcoming wintery days of snow and ice.

Georgia Finnegan served as the Advancement Director for Minnesota Dance Theatre in 2017-18, and currently as an advisor to its Board of Directors. With over 30 years in the nonprofit industry in Minnesota, she focuses on education, and arts administration. Georgia, founder of Saint Paul City Ballet (renamed St. Paul Ballet in 2014), continued its growth and development for sixteen years, garnering foundation, corporate, and individual donor support. Georgia works with her husband, Erik Saulitis, a dance photographer, helping market his business, Danceprints. She is a firm believer that the arts, in partnership with corporate, business, and community support, augment the economy of a city and increases the vitality and aesthetic beauty of its community.

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