"O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being.
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
I did not want to see the darkness coming so early, the necessity of carting in firewood and carting out ashes. I didn't want to see the gardens all brown and dead, the birds leaving, the muddy shoes lining the porch, the falling of the leaves.
"How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.
At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow."
- Elsie N. Brady, Leaves
I've changed over the years, though. I am not sure when. Maybe it was when we put in the gas stoves so firewood was a pleasure, something for the fireplace and evening quiet times. Maybe it was when I began writing more and paying more attention to the subtle changes. Maybe it was when there were no longer so many muddy shoes and boots, and the birds stayed around because we began feeding them year-round.
Whatever the reason, November is now a time I look forward to. The frantic pace of summer and early fall is over; the gardens are at rest, not dead like I used to think. The cellar is as full as we can make it, and the lamplight in the evenings makes the house glow with comfort. It's time to rest a bit ourselves, although my storytelling and writing work is still keeping me busy--but it is a busyness of my mind as I plan and practice, research and write. By the end of the month there will be venison in the freezer and best of all, family will come to celebrate Thanksgiving.
A friend wrote this morning of his appreciation of the good things in his life--even though politics, shootings, the difficulties of friends and strangers trying to cope with the devastating effects of the hurricane in Florida, and the ugly head of racism all keep us worried and stressed. My friend wrote of his snug home, his good food, his new bike, his many friends, his good life. And his joy in these things spilled over onto all of us who read his words.
November is a month for reflection, a month for sharing, and a month for appreciating the goodness we have in whatever measure we have been graced with. I cannot fix the ills of this world. I can, however, do what I can in my little corner, and I can slow down and be thankful for where I am and those I love. That's what November means to me now--a time of soft light, gentle evenings, appreciation.
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."
- Elizabeth Coatsworth
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.