A Pause In Job Search Stuff November's Gifts

by: Joanne Meehl

The bright colors of October are like the debutante at the dance: fresh, breathtaking, beauty in motion. Vivid and clear reds, yellows, oranges. You look, you gaze, fascinated by the beauty and what it does to you. The camera does its best to capture the colors: you attempt to catch the peak, so that you can hold the memory of it and send the picture to your people in Florida who miss it so much.

But the colors a week later, and two weeks, and three, are more interesting, more intriguing: russets, coppers, ochres, umbers, burgundies. Like the older woman, November holds its secrets and is more subtle, and although the beauty is past its peak you still see the link to it, and you find your gaze resting there instead of darting all over. You relish it. It is more satisfying than the fleeting debutante. This part of the season lasts longer than the vivid part and it holds off what follows, so you are grateful. You savor the late-dropping oaks and you thank the mighty, old maples that won't let go of their leaves.


November shows us how the trees'?branches - some gnarly and knobby, some sinewy and sensuous - reach for the sky. We see their shapes for the first time since May and it surprises us again. Next month we will see even more of them. But enough foliage is now gone so that we see the bushes with their bright red berries, and we see the bittersweet snaking its way from trunk to trunk. Wood smoke punctuates the air, carrying with it memories of campfires and old fireplaces.

The sumac, its leaves fiery red before the winds and rain of this month, now stand in groups with their berried panicle heads looking like so many meerkats scouting the horizon.

A few turgid ferns, defiantly green, lord over their rusty and bowed brethren.

The smells that sneak out from the brush tell us of moldering and decay and thus the potential for new life. Daylight becomes longer again in little over a month and by the time it's too cold to smell anything from the ground, we'll notice the strengthening sun and will be looking for signs of the next part of the cycle. This is how it is.

And the sunflower heads: the heavy sunflower is the elephant of the garden, big, tall, almost ungainly. The flowers' petals are now shriveled but the heads are loaded with their treasure of seeds. The birds are wise: they drop these seeds in the spring, and the seeds sprout, and people let them grow for their beauty over the summer, then the plants complete their cycle to provide generous food for the birds.

It is no surprise that we designated November as our time to give thanks: November gets us to slow down and notice. And for that alone, we are grateful.

JM, 2006


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