Thursday, November 23, 2017
November Is Limb-itless
I realized the other day that I don't take many landscape photos in November. After the fullness of summer and the grandiose colours of fall, November is very stark.
Yet that's what makes November lovely: its simplicity, its briskness, its clear-eyed acceptance of the grey skies and frozen puddles, of its own barrenness.
What a wonderful season is November. For it is its own season, don't you think? I tried to think if any other month is its own season but no, not even March. Only November. It isn't autumn and it isn't winter. It is the season of November.
As I was walking, I wondered if this is why we rush to decorate for Christmas: November unnerves us. Those bare branches, those crunchy brown grasses, the thin layer of ice on the puddles in the morning. Such a thin layer, it crackles apart as soon as the dog walks on it.
We have the green lushness of summer and the yellows and oranges of fall, the red and greens and blues of Christmas but what does November offer?
Flat, grey clouds hinting at snow.
Blackened sunflower heads, emptied of their seeds.
Pale sun low in the sky, setting at five o'clock.
Chickens settling onto their roosts before we've eaten supper.
So we hurry November; we rush it; we transform it into a pre-December period. We anticipate our anticipation. We crowd out November after the brief pause on Remembrance Day with its blood-red poppies. We don't want to deal with the death of nature, with the decaying leaves, with the still waters. We don't want to live in the darkness so we fling lights onto those empty branches, stick Santa and his reindeer on the brown lawn, glitterize our houses.
Yet that is precisely why we need November. This is our dark and dormant space before the frenzy of the holidays, before the whirling storms of next year. This is our breathing space. This is our stargazing space. We need this pause between the lazy energy of summer and the busyness of harvest, and the sparkly wildness of Christmas and New Year's Eve.
We need the wilderness of November, that time in between when everything pauses in its cyclical ambitions -- after the leaves fall and before the snow covers.
I type that -- and pause myself. What is it like to live in a place where there is no snow? Perhaps this is a uniquely Maritime post. Perhaps only those of us who experience four seasons also experience the fifth, orphaned, unappreciated season of November.