November thoughts

I am an autumn person through and through. I have always felt most comfortable and most at home from October through December. September has always carried that feeling of excited anticipation, which I usually attributed to beginning a new school year, but now neither I nor my children are in school and I still get that rush of anticipation. Perhaps it is just an ingrained habit but perhaps it is more than an artificial thing called a school year. Maybe it is that September is the last road that leads to my home time of the year. I have heard other people talk about personal affinities for times of year. I know many summer people and a few springs. Very few winters, although I’m sure they are out there.

I can’t help but wonder if these affinities have to do with the age of one’s soul – as in “She is an old soul.” I have always felt old, even when I was young in years – old but not quite “there” yet. So the soul/season theory makes sense to me. I remember being 20 and walking to a college class and thinking “It is spring and I am young….” and it seemed like a brand new concept to me, like I had to convince myself by rational math that I was actually young.

My first watercolor landscape. A fall scene of course.

My first watercolor landscape. A fall scene of course.

October gets plenty of good press.Everyone loves October. As Anne of Green Gables says, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” And in the book I just finished, The Duke’s Children by Anthony Trollope I find this:

I do love a woodland walk but where I live I am more likely to enjoy fall from the pavement.

I do love a woodland walk but where I live I am more likely to enjoy fall from the pavement.

“It was not near the end of October, and the weather was particularly fine. Perhaps in our climate, October would of all months be the most delightful if something of its charms were not detracted from the feeling that with it depart the last relics of the delights of summer. The leaves are still there with their gorgeous colouring, but they are going. The last rose still lingers on the bush, but it is the last. The woodland walks are still pleasant to the feet, but caution is heard on every side as to the coming winter.”

In my part of the world, the leaves were mostly green until halfway through October, and now, November 6th, the fall foliage is at its peak of brilliance. But Novembers in literature are often associated with darkness and death. I found this passage from a letter written by Emily Dickinson in a Paris Review article:

“It is also November. The noons are more laconic and the sunsets sterner, and Gibraltar lights make the village foreign. November always seemed to me the Norway of the year. —— is still with the sister who put her child in an ice nest last Monday forenoon. The redoubtable God! I notice where Death has been introduced, he frequently calls, making it desirable to forestall his advances.”

And here’s a depressing quote from Henry Brooks Adams:

“It’s a queer sensation, this secret belief that one stands on the brink of the world’s greatest catastrophe. For it means the fall of Western Europe, as it fell in the fourth century. It recurs to me every November, and culminates every December. I have to get over it as I can, and hide, for fear of being sent to an asylum.”

Of course both Emily Dickinson and Henry Adams were New Englanders and Trollope was talking about England. I live in Virginia and do not find November the slightest bit depressing. It is an exciting month for me full of promise of holidays. It does sometimes whisper of winter but I rather like winter. It’s my second favorite. If I ever get depressed, which I try not to do, it’s probably going to happen sometime between May and August.

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About CJ

Blogger, illustrator, writer

Posted on November 6, 2015, in Reading Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Autumn is my favorite season too. It feels like everything is breathing a sigh of relief after summer. I love the slower pace and the chance to read by the fire. Your watercolor is beautiful – a dreamscape of autumn colors. I hope you’ll get to enjoy and paint many more scenes like that this season.

    • Thank you so much Sheila. Yes autumn always feels like a sigh of relief to me too. I have two passions: art and writing, and I welcome any long peaceful hours to work on my projects.

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