Monday, November 17, 2014

Ode to November

November is the forgotten month...the dreary month when the leaves fall off and blow away, the wind is sharp, the days darken, and everything holds it breath, waiting for Christmas.

At least that's what I used to think.

All the way back to when I was a little girl, I'd refer to November in my mind as "the brown month."  The bare, twiggy branches and dead, brown grass seemed to beg for a blanket of snow to hide under.  For kids, October is a lot more fun...leaf piles, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, playing outside with friends after school, and only a sweater needed to ward off the chill.  December is really great, of course, because of Christmas and snow and bright lights and music.  But that brown in-between month seemed so dull.  Most kids don't get excited about Thanksgiving; it's just the nod to begin the real festivities.  With that being the one and only highlight in the midst of shortened days, wind-whipped weather, hard ground, fields full of stubble, and dead flowers in the garden, it just wasn't enough to redeem the month in my mind.

After a particularly difficult event one November in my early adult years, my first thought was, "Of course this would happen in November.  November is the bad month."  But no sooner had I thought the thought that I felt an immediate prick in my heart.  There is no bad month.  Every month of the year is good and has its merit and worth.  I decided then and there that I wasn't going to let a difficult situation "seal the deal" on committing poor November to my bad books for the rest of my life.  From now on, I would no longer hate November.

Funny thing is, I didn't have to change my thinking with a purposeful know, waking up in the dark, stepping outside into a biting wind, looking woefully up at the naked trees and then suddenly lecturing myself, "No, those aren't naked trees, those are trees waiting for their new leaves.  No, it's not cold and dark, it's just a bit chilly and gray.  I simply began seeing differently, and it was actually effortless.  I remember looking at the bare branches one day and seeing them in their stark beauty...the symmetry and sudden asymmetry of their black silhouette against the gray sky, the lichen that grew like lace, the intriguing pattern of the bark.  I also was awakened to the beauty of the muted, mellow palette of a November afternoon.  With the sun setting early, it gave a soft, pink hue to the sky that blended beautifully with the taupes and grays and browns of the trees and fields below it.  It became one of my favorite color much so that I actually chose it as our backdrop for family pictures one year.  We all dressed in various muted shades of browns, taupes and pinks and then hiked out to the bare woods where the rosy light of the afternoon sun had no trouble shining through the leafless trees.  We walked paths that were carpeted with brown leaves after their vivid colors had been faded by the wind and rain.  There was a soft etching of frost that highlighted each branch and made the woods shimmer.  They were beautiful pictures.

And now, I actually love November.  Every year it just got little bit better.  I don't think it was because I tried to like it, I think it's just because I decided to stop hating it.

I took a picture of the valley in which I live from a hill above our home.  Every time I look at it, I'm filled with a sense of peace and calm.  It's November and the late afternoon sky is pink and pale blue.  The fields are brown.  The tree branches are bare.  The riot of color that makes up early Autumn has played itself out.  The sky actually seems bigger without leaves to hide it.  A warm jacket, a hat and gloves are comfy and cozy against the crisp air that nips my nose.  I like it.  It makes me glad to go back to my warm kitchen for dinner...something that has been simmering or roasting for hours and fills the house with its delicious aroma.  And, unlike how I felt as a kid, I love that November culminates with Thanksgiving.  I love to cook amazing dishes and gather those I love best around my big table.  I love that decorating is easy...things foraged from the woods and lots of candles.  I love that the preparation is minimal but the enjoyment is big and the expense is small.  I love how it is a perfect reflection of the month that hosts it...muted and mellow.

So happy sweet November!  Enjoy the month and give thanks!  God makes all things beautiful in its time.


1 comment:

  1. I love November...December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September and October!