Most people like to wax poetic over July beaches or April crocuses or September splendor or even the stunning whiteness of February. I don’t deny any of that—I love it too. But unlike most people, I love November.
That’s right. I love it. I love its heavy lavender gray skies and bare maple trees and earthy crushed dry leaves and howling wind. I love the cold majesty in the air. I love the eerie sound of coyotes howling down at the brook at dusk, and the rush of partridges that fly up out of the thicket with a flooosh as I walk past on the path. I love the wall of brilliant orange shining behind the tall pointy firs along the east edge of the pasture.
I love the mournfulness in the wind, the way it rushes between the tops of the tallest trees, breathing out the secrets that have been hiding behind the intensity of summer and the brilliance of fall.
It is good to have the ground-level vegetation in the woods gone. Erased, as if Mother Nature pulled out a giant black felt eraser and just rubbed it all off the face of the earth. Now there is just moss and packed leaves on the forest floor, making it easy to see the myriad of deer paths winding their intricate way amid the softwood saplings.
This is the time of year that I roam freely in the woods, spending more time off the trails than on them. No thick brush to limit visibility, no snow to slow me down, no snakes to put me off. Just me, the dog, and the Maine woods. I’ve been exploring the tabletop of the broad open hill we call “the whaleback,” finding matted-down areas where I imagine the deer spend their nights, and admiring the view they must wake up to before winding my way down a steep narrow game trail.
I like the primitive no-frills smell of wood smoke as it wafts its way through the thin cold air, drifting in from a handful of chimneys while I am out walking.
Animals are running for home this time of year. Squirrels are stocked up enough that they venture out across the lawn for only the choicest of morsels, no longer interested in slowing to taunt the cat with their presence. I imagine that the big piles of brush amassed from a season of trail work must house a network of rodents and hares as they hunker down for the winter.
I can feel the power of God in the spare of November. The sense of foreboding in the air makes me know that I am small, just a speck on this palette of seasons. But I feel safe at home these days, too, leaning on the rail of the kitchen wood stove feeling warm and secure as my world heads towards winter, thankful to live in a place where I can love every month. Even November.