samedi 6 décembre 2014

Why November?

Yesterday, a woman who was writing a cheque said aloud with a satisfied smile: “Ah! December.” I echoed: “Yes, it's a rounded name, isn’t it? Like October…” and we laughed, because as silly and subtle as it was, this idea made perfect sense at that moment.

But we were also thinking (by contrast) of November: the cold, damp, drab-transitioning month that feels so dreary when you live in the Northern Hemisphere, at least around the 45th parallel. (Hello, lucky California/Southern Hemisphere readers :o)

Nine in the morning. No biking for me that day.

Between the generous, golden glory of October, and the fresh, invigorating Winter feel of December, November has few positive aspects to claim, at least from our human point of view.

So: why November?

The great circle of Cottonwoods in the Parc Lafontaine.

This is an actual question that we tend to ask around repeatedly, when sudden frost alternates with bursts of rain, hail, or ice storms – while colds and various bugs are merrily roller-coasting (at our expense) these weather waves.

And yet… And yet.

Coming alive in the descending light.

There is a progressive slowing down in November, a soberness in the natural world that moves me secretly.

Small, whispering flocks of leaves gathering up in the Red Oak crown.

The earth becomes darker and more apparent. Leaves turn to muted shades of amber, and they keep falling to the ground – melting into compost as the days go by – without being replaced.

As our eyes adjust to the new spectrum of browns, we begin to appreciate their subtle variations. Green is not taken for granted anymore; it is a chance guest, like the migrating birds.

They are so silky that you can't help caressing your cheek with them.

Gingko trees are shedding at last their golden fans, sending them a-fluttering to the soft ground.

I could stare at this for hours (were it not so brief) and loose myself in it, gladly.

Sunset is early and cold - but it lights up a revealing théâtre d'ombres right in front of you, a silent play brimming with stories, waiting for you to embark.

Andrew Wyeth states: “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.”

Watercolour (and quote) from The Helga Pictures: Cape Coat, p. 182.

This perpetual entertainment from mother Nature, that we somehow expect to go on indefinitely, is off for a month (or more). That’s right, folks, we’re taking a vacation.

You can come back next year, or you can wait and see.

For every bird and animal, this shifting of gears has a crucial meaning that they each have to interpret in their own way, if they wish to be alive still when Spring comes.

To me, November is a Yin month. 

My own interpretation is to take things slowly, one at a time, and to sleep long nights

November means: You can let these golden leaves fall down, we are preparing you for new buds, new flowers, new leaves. And new sprigs, because you’ll be slightly bigger. With a slightly different shape (who knows what it will be?)

Can you see, along this majestic branch, the tiny pearls in waiting?

Unfortunately, when you are a parent, or working in a restaurant, or in a store, November is rarely, if ever, a time for winding down – December is already rising in the background like a full moon, looming with contradictory pulls.

But if we can, and whenever we can, ‘taking it slowly in November’ is unexpectedly rewarding. And eye-opening.

Does this look like November? I'm not sure.

Staying warm in colourful layers, sketching dreamily, cooking squash in the oven, being gentle on myself, venturing outside with a thermos of fresh ginger tea in my packsack, and looking around at the bare shapes of my wooden friends (in the company of determined woodpeckers and busy chickadees): this is my favourite November mood.

So when December comes, with snow storms, deep frost, and crafting in sight, I can welcome it all with genuine pleasure.

Happy December, my friends  :o)

What, no sleeping cat? Coming soon in the French version.

4 commentaires:

  1. I have always wondered what this time of year, with solstice and Christmas coming upon us, would be like in the Northern Hemisphere. I tend to romanticise the snow & cold, the rugging up and slowing down. Then this post got me thinking about the energies of the season and how for me at least November and December have a fastening pace to them which is partly tied to Christmas and the busyness that this time of year brings. But this pace I feel is also tied to the seasonal energies of Summer and Spring, a feeling of elemental air energy, freedom, expansion, rebirth. I wonder if the slowing down and withdrawal that I feel in May and June is what you are talking about here and then I wonder if I could indeed marry this winter energy with the pace of the holidays. I think I would find it difficult. But then perhaps your holiday/solstice are not as hectic as down here because of the energies of winter. Does this make sense?

    I love the third image Emmanuelle. The colours!

    1. Yes it makes sense, and you are right: I think a lot of people in the Northern Hemisphere are feeling this need to do things more slowly in late Autumn and early Winter, and this would be perfectly suitable with celebrating Winter Solstice and Christmas in the same spirit… Enjoying simple things (like staying warm, cooking, seeing loved ones) is in tune with both.

      But our societies tend to focus on the outside instead of the inside, which leads to a lot of social pressure regarding food, gifts and invitations.

      However, each of us is able to adapt these expectations to our own intuitions, feelings and needs. Hopefully it helps spread this kind of independence of consciousness :o)

      Thanks Chontelle, I am quite happy with the way the colours turned out in these pictures.

  2. I love this. Why not November? I'll admit it, November in Finland is the one that brakes you if you're gonna brake, but if you don't expect too much of yourself, it really can be lovely. Sending you love in this dark time of year, m'dear. You are always always so deeply, deftly thoughtful. Onward to the light!

    1. I know Milla, I was also an unhappy November-dweller when I lived in France, because it was mostly grey, rainy and cold - and at the time my moods were hugely influenced by the weather (being in Montréal helped a lot in that regard).

      Reading was my only refuge! At least I could dream of places where Winter was actually white and snowy, with candles built outside with snow balls! And where people were kind and generous with each other, like a certain Finnish girl here :o)

      Much love to you dear Milla.