Monday, November 07, 2011
I've noticed how very silent it is when I'm out walking now -- no meadowlark songs, no lark bunting twitters, no buzzing grasshoppers. The summer songbirds are gone, but I'm still seeing a few migrating robins. The blackbirds are still with us, but they are flocked up into large, black clouds that swoop down and float back up, drifting with the winds. I know their time here is very short now. I did spy a Sharp-tailed Grouse along the road today. We both surprised each other. She flew up out of the tall grass and startled me as much as I must have startled her quiet grazing. When the Sharptails move in to the home place, it signals winter. I told Hubs about my Sharptail sighting and he shook his head. I wish we didn't feel this way about the Sharptails' arrival because really, I so do enjoy them during the winter. I love seeing their footprints and tail tracks in the snow where I walk; I adore their chicken-like chuckling, their stout bodies perched in the treetops, and their feathery feet remind me that they are well-equipped for cold, winter weather. They are fine companions to a snow walker like me.
The leaves are all gone from the trees now. Even the fallen leaves have been blown away by the wind. The exceptions, however, are the Russian Olive trees. They always keep their leaves well into the winter months. They have set on lots and lots of greeny-gray olives this year. Some folks say it means we are in for a long, cold winter. I think it means we've had a good, wet spring and summer, but what do I know? What I do know is that the Sharp-tailed Grouse will have a bountiful supply of fat-rich olives to eat. I've tried them. They are bitter but have a nice tang to them at the end like a glass of dry wine. The olives are mostly seed, and very little flesh, but I suppose the birds like the seed-part too.
All of these things remind me of the Thomas Hood poem quoted in the Tasha Tudor book which I own and love called A Time to Keep. Within the pages, every month has its words, its preparations, its celebrations, its poetry and its worth in Tasha Tudor's home. I think Thomas Hood gives November a bad rap, but it is really quite truthful when you think about it. Poor November must usher us into Winter after all. Tasha prefers to look on the brighter side of the month -- sketching in the corgis, a warm fire, the bounty of the year and turkey roasting on the spit.
No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! - November!
~Thomas Hood, 1844
What do you think? Does Thomas Hood give us a dose of reality with his November poem? Does Tasha choose to see the bright side and ignore the rest? I happen to like them both. I think we need both reality and imagination, and I for one, need to see the good that comes from darkness, cold, and short days.