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November, and the Nurturing Dark

November Trees.  Cat Chapin-Bishop, 2013.
October’s landscape is all burning bush… and yellow aspen, orange maple, and smoldering-ember oak. October is brightness, and fire, and hurry.

November, though? Is ash.  November is the fire burned out, the hurry burned away. October takes the breath away.  But November is the world taking back that breath, pausing for rest.  November is the world scoured clean.

Perhaps it’s because I am a teacher; early fall seems like one demand after another to me, and I reach the end of October days like a marathon runner who staggers across the finish line.  By the time November rolls around, with the end of Daylight Savings Time, that extra hour of sleep feels long overdue.  I set my clock back in relief, and accustom myself to seeing the sun’s weak light in the mornings again–though I know the darkness will swallow it up again soon.

This morning, as the sun punched up over a horizon neatly cleared of leaves, I watched the slanted light sweep long shadows over fields gone bare of crops.  Geese stood sleeping in the frost and stubble, their heads beneath their wings.

Gray geese, tan fields, drab, winter-barren hills.  The color is leaching from the world, and I am reveling in it.

November is the season of rest. November is when my schedule slows for the first time since the fall began.  Thanksgiving is coming–not exactly a vacation, but a pause, at least, a breath.

 Outside, the shapes of hills and rocks come plain again.  November is when life and in the woods both get stripped clean until they, like the air, are clear.

November is dark.  November is colorless. November is empty.

But it is a darkness and a colorlessness that soothes the eye, and an emptiness that carves out a sense of space and openness.

There will be time. There will be time for memory and gratitude.  There will be time for grief.  There will be time for reflection, and second cups of coffee, for walking on an empty winter beach with family.  There will be time to stop and to listen, and to hear winter’s silence arrive.  Because now it is November, and the world can catch its breath.

May we find good rest, my friends, in the kind and nurturing dark.

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