Monday, November 07, 2011


I've been out on my daily walks and my goodness, but they are chilly!  If I don't take a stocking cap with me, I must pull up my hood at some point during the jaunt.  Today it was sunny and we had very little wind, but the brisk temperature of 45 degrees made me realize it is definitely November.  I always think about how *nice* this type of day would seem in the dead of winter.  I'd be out washing the car in my sweatshirt on a 45 degree day in January.  But it's November.

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.


  1. Honestly I love November. To me November means a birthday, election, preparing for Thanksgiving, and the kick-off for Christmas plans and celebrations. So what if the weather is not warm and sunny and there are no bugs and bees. The Canadian geese and red birds are beautiful. We saw a blue jay in the woods over the weekend. I feel sorry for Thomas Hood that he could see no good in November!

  2. November is one of my favorite months. It's the true onslaught of the holiday season. If it's not frigid yet (and here in the South, it's not yet), it's really lovely to be outside. I'm not a summer person. Honestly, a cool day without birds/bees/gnats/flowers, etc. is lovely. These things are rather fun distractions that keep us from seeing the underlying beauty of nature, which is exposed and glorious in the colder months. Tudor, I suspect, is being a little tongue-in-cheek. But it is a fun poem! And hey -- that's a fabulous banner you have up top!! Please keep it for a while!

  3. I think it depends on where you live. November here starts with glorious colors and even flowers, but ends brown and empty. I really think, though, there is so much to see and appreciate if you just look for it!

  4. Great post. I love the picture and I must say I usually look for the good and bright so I ignore what is dark. I do love winter because of being indoors but I don't like my children driving to school is snow and ice..the good and the bad...right? Blessings, Dianntha

  5. I love both sides too and I love November. I love that it signals the end of yard work for another season and for a few short months I'll be able to concentrate on things inside the house. Plus, it's the month of Thanksgiving, with all the warmth that brings. I've also heard that we're in for a long, snowy winter. Bring it on!!!

  6. What a beautiful piece of writing (yours) and good questions, too.
    November belongs to Bill (his birthday month) and my dad and his dad and many others (including our turkey SAM - her birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year!)
    It is a very nice clear month, I think. Tasha is right.
    You are a song singer, my friend. Thank you for the lovely tune I found here today.

  7. Love your new header! Yes, we always have to hope for that brightness somewhere in the gloom. Looks like I have at least one more mowing of the leaves left around here before I retire my mower for the winter! Funny to envision you washing the car in 45 degree weather in January!
    Have a great day!

  8. Ahh Tasha, a smart woman. November my not have fruit or leaves but it has tresures of it own and Tasha knew that better than anyone!! CLarice

  9. Well - I've been searching for Nov. treasures here on the Island. Often our Novs are grey and rainy - and I must admit it's a challenge to find the bright side. But,this Nov is sunny and bright! And can you believe it? My snapdragons are still blooming :) Despite the dusting of snow one day. I don't mind the early evenings - it's nice to gather around the stove in the evenings. But I'll be looking forward to springtime light by the time the winter is over - believe me! Love your Tasha Tudor banner.

  10. I think I love November. It's chilly which means I can bring out my favorite sweaters from storage, and dust off old soup recipes. Where I live, the leaves are still either clinging stubbornly to branches, or laying in big drifting piles. My three year old loves to use his little rake to 'help' us in the yard, and the air reminds me of football games, cocoa and hayrides. mmmm November!

  11. We are having a beautiful November, with sunny days in the mid-sixties. When I walk Travis in the morning, it's closer to 45, and I enjoy being a little bit cold. There will come a day not too long from now when the wind will whip up and the rains will come down, and all the beautiful leaves will come off the trees, but I love that part of it, too.


  12. November here is not so cold...after our horrible hot summer...the cooler weather is a huge blessing...I do keep some of my flowers through November and into December...just bought some Johnny Jump ups today to plant. I love that sweet Tasha Tudor book...blessings

  13. Sigh. It's good to be back here.

    I too love that poem. And yes it does sum up November just so!

    Blessings, Debbie

  14. Living in Texas during the fall resembles springtime a LOT. Flowers start blooming, monarchs are migrating through, birds are noisier than ever, and it smells so good. It is difficult to be too gloomy about it all and especially the reprieve from the heat.

  15. Hi J! I have to agree with Leslie about our Texas Novembers -- not like yours at all. Our leaves have just started to turn within the last week or so, and we still have many days in the 60's and 70's -- like some folks' summer weather I suppose. I did light my first fires last night -- love!

  16. I love that poem! It does speak much of November, but I also choose to look on the bright side of it. It ushers in December!



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