There are times, I wish the month of November was ten days long. With late autumn’s onset of darkness, changeable uncomfortable weather, and bleak sunless days, it would be better to shorten this month as incentive to encourage winter to get on with it. With that said, there is a stark beauty about November. Leafless deciduous trees, muted conifers and limited cloudless days have a calming effect on inhabitants who go about their daily rituals of tasks. Wildlife adds additional urgency to complete preparation for the harshness of winter that will challenge their safety, security and survival.
Once the time change takes place, dawn will announce the beginning of the day by pushing darkness to late afternoon. When winter firms its grasp on the calendar, daylight will be rationed with a stinginess that adversely affects all living things. On days when sunshine is in abundance and duels with cold frigid temperatures, inhabitants scurry about buoyed by the sun rays, taunted by aggressive wind to complete routine tasks and obligations before the curtain of night.
Nights in November encourage one to be warm, cozy, and secure in their home. With fireplace or furnace, hot cocoa or coffee, sweaters or soft-fleeced garments keeping the cold at bay we nest in a chair or couch, watch TV, visit the computer, curl up with a good book or cuddle with a special someone.
But there are also times when I want to lengthen November. The allotted thirty days serve as transition from autumn to winter. In ever enlarging increments, darkness overtakes daylight permitting moonlight and star shine extra minutes to fill the heavens like sparkling jewels. November is a time to reflect, review, and remind. This is a time of preparation, of thanksgiving for the bounty we share and to savor the seasons past. Wearing a jacket to stave off an early November’s chill, this geriatric unit occupies the glider on the deck and watches the trees dance and sway to November’s menu of breezes. Autumn leaves tenaciously hold to branches in defiance of accelerated winds, but eventually release their grip and take flight: blanketing the landscape, flakes of multicolored sunshine carpet lawns, decks, and search for gutters to clog.
In the early morning light, clouds take shape, shadows lighten and disappear, and resident geese begin their noisy social gathering for sustenance. Sipping on the day’s first cup of coffee, memories and remembrance gently visit the mind. Road traffic builds with commuters going to work and school buses following set routes pick-up students for school. Memories of four decades in classrooms are triggered by the sight of those rubber-tired cheese wagons with flashing strobe announcing their arrival. Remembering our children when they were school age, and the times we walked with them to school holding hands, shuffling through autumn leaves, and jabbing at winter’s snowflakes as we joyfully shared a journey to the schoolhouse door. How quickly the eyes fill with tears.
Now retired and released from structured obligations, memories of long-ago shift-work days when a young apprentice waited on the corner for public transportation headed for the steel mill. With a shopping bag of work clothes, brown bag lunch, and bus fare-- remembrance of sunlit, rainy, frozen and dark mornings bring melancholy feelings of less complicated times. It was a time of beginning—initial steps of the journey to grown-up. Day by day as life unfolded, apprehension lessened, uncertainty faded, confidence increased and future adventures were welcomed with passionate energy, enthusiasm and purpose: from classroom to factory, factory to campus, campus to classroom.
Thinking of years that have passed all too quickly, of goals accomplished and not reached, of dreams realized and not pursued, and all moments in between, brings mixed inner feelings. Most of all, there is personal thanksgiving and appreciation, knowing that items on this life’s resume are the result of hard work, dedication, faithfulness to trust, honor, respect and responsibility—and loving prayerful support far beyond the stars. November thoughts.