With apologies to those born in this month or celebrating other special occasions, I have to say I don’t like November in southern Ontario. Here’s a piece I wrote for our local paper last year explaining my feelings.
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Just between you and me, I’ve never been all that impressed with November. By the time it arrives, the glorious colours of autumn have been raked, swept and mulched away, and any leaves brave enough to remain have shrivelled and turned a lacklustre brown. Pedestrians walk with collars pulled high and shoulders drawn up near their ears, small protection against bitter winds that drive dead leaves and debris from their hiding places.
Remembrance Day, November’s single claim to fame, couldn’t take place in a more appropriate month. Black and white photographs, and flickering film clips from the World Wars emphasize the starkness of those battlefields, as though long years of combat took place against the backdrop of an unending, monochromatic November.
What is November besides a dingy, grey vehicle conveying us hearty Canadian-types from the faded glory of October through to the Christmas lights that start to appear in early December? On the surface, nothing.
But there’s the rub.
Too often we complain our way through late sunrise and early sunsets. We moan about the cold, and imagine blizzards in every snowflake that falls. We feel overwhelmed by the length of our Christmas lists, and worry about getting everything done. No wonder the month appears grey and unending.
Too often we forget that Remembrance Day poppies, November’s only spot of colour, are small, bright heralds to the sparkling displays that light December streets. We fail to recall that the dull frozen ground often becomes covered in white. If we’re fortunate, huge feathers of snow fall to the ground, soft as the down they resemble, bringing wonder to the eyes of all but the most pessimistic. And it’s only because of November’s starkness that we can truly appreciate the beauty of the month that embraces Christmas.
Like me, please try to remember the familiar quote from a medieval Persian fable: “This too shall pass”.
And once we’re through it, there will be an entire eleven months until November returns and I intend to enjoy each one of them to the fullest. Just one question though: Can we please skip February?