Thursday, November 11, 2010

November is my favorite month

November is a big month for me: not only is it my birth month (21st), but also Tony's birth month (15th). It's my sister-in-law's birthday on the 9th, and my dad would have been 94 yesterday. My ex's mother died 14 years ago today. And my daughter Vanessa's birthday is the 24th.

It always has marked the beginning of winter for me. I remember a birthday, either my sixth or seventh, in Wayzata, Minn., and watching the flurries outside the window as I unwrapped a big book of stories from my grandmother, who usually sent me books for Christmas and birthdays. I would anticipate the first snow of the winter on my birthday -- of course more often than not it didn't happen quite that way, but I liked to think it did. (And for the record, I don't miss snow...just sayin'.)

It's Thanksgiving month too, with a four-day weekend, and then countdown to Christmas -- lots of food, lots of shopping, lots of activity everywhere, with concerts and fall plays and bazaars and the last of the fall festivals.

Weather is more unpredictable than October, colder than September, but without the surety of cold and rain that mark the early winter days of December. We usually get our first frost this month, and definitely some rain, but leaves still cling stubbornly to the trees. Out here it also means the greening begins, since our 'green' season is winter, and the ground springs to life a little more after each bit of rain. The deer begin to fatten up again with the bounty of acorns on the ground and the new grass, and the big six-point buck that's been roaming our property is looking for nookie as the does hustle out of his way.

It's nearly 70 degrees today -- hardly wintery -- and mild temps are predicted for several more days. It's a good time to get the last red tomatoes out of the garden, pick the peppers, and start cleaning out the spent vines. We'll insulate the water spigots and outdoor pipes on one of these mild days so that we're not out there in cold wind at the last minute.

The outdoor kitties have been preparing for weeks: the twins, Snitch and Squib, are fat and furry, with thick tails that they wrap around their noses as they snooze in the kitty beds on the front porch. Harry Potter, Weasley and even little Minnie have their winter coats on too, although they aren't as chunky -- the twins like to periodically chow down on lizard, mouse or bird tartare, (fur, feathers and all) usually on the front sidewalk where they demonstrate to the other cats the fine art of decapitation on their unfortunately slow victims. crunchcrunchcrunch

The gutters are clean, the chimney likewise, the wood rack is stacked, and the flannel sheets are on the bed. The kettle is on the woodstove ready to humidify the air and the AC and swamp cooler are shut down for the season. I've already made one big pot of veggie soup and have broth ready for another. It's comfort food time: perhaps my Minnesota roots are showing, but I love the stews and soups and roasted meats and warm breads perfuming the house with their aromas. Salad -- our typical summer fare -- simply doesn't smell, y'know?

And I prefer the cozy sweats and fleece of winter to the linen and thin cotton of summer as well: alpaca socks on my feet on the coldest days, fuzzy slippers ready for my cold feet. I like the darker colors, the rich jewel tones punctuated by black, more than I like the whitewashed pastels of warmer weather.

So I'm finishing up the closet changes today, tucking away the summer clothes and light-colored rugs, and winter-fying the decor. I'm ready for the change, ready for whatever the new season will bring me, ready to do something different.

“Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils” -- Cyril Connelly

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