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Learning to Love November


The stark beauty of New Hampshire's November

Robert Frost's poem My November Guest begins:

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,

            Thinks these dark days of autumn rain

Are beautiful as days can be;

She loves the bare, the withered tree;

            She walks the sodden pasture lane.

The stark natural beauty of November in New Hampshire’s forests and mountains is an acquired taste. After the leaves have all fallen and dense herbaceous vegetation dies-back, there’s an expansive, open, airy quality to late autumn.

The woods seem bleak and empty. The forest feels forlorn, particularly on raw, damp gunmetal-grey days. With a biting wind and threat of snow squalls in the foothills, it feels a bit like the Scottish Highlands.

Increased visual penetration into the woods reveals contours of lichen-crusted stonewalls and hidden cellar holes. Distinctive silhouettes of leafless apple trees, witch hazel bushes and other arboreal anomalies are suddenly conspicuous.

Faint rustling in fallen leaves, falling acorns and jeering blue jays echo amid the oaks. Mossy brooks trickle beneath a veneer of ice in deep shade of dark hemlocks where winter is poised to re-emerge. The forest is hushed, portending snow.

Weak rays of sunlight slant from the southwest at 3 o'clock. Low level light makes me sleepy and lethargic as a black bear circling a den site where he'll sleep away the next four months…

Frost ends November Guest with:

…Not yesterday I learned to know

            The love of bare November days

Before the coming of the snow,

But it were vain to tell her so,

            And they are better for her praise.

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