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Yankee Gothic November

Julie Blaustein
Flickr Creative Commons

November becomes fitful; restless. Its moods teeter toward somber: steely-gray or blue and cold.  Even under fair skies, low-angle sunlight triggers some ancestral longing – winter is coming and pantries, root cellars and woodsheds should be chock-full.

Traditionally, November was the time for butchering livestock. Indoors, it remains “kitchen season.” The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to cook and eat - and then yawn and nap. Outdoors, it’s “forest season” custom-made for cutting wood or deer hunting at classic rustic, North Country hunting camps.

November woods are beautiful in simplicity and pale quality of light. Only Witch Hazel’s waxy, yellow flower petals contrast with muted earth tones – brown hardwoods, glossy green hemlocks, gray stone walls.

New England is re-antiquated after summer people and leaf-peepers have fled like October sparrows. Our landscape offers a tableau of post-Halloween Yankee gothic. The impassive hills cast long shadows when the sun tilts like a collapsing barn toward the western horizon before 4 p.m.

From a local hilltop, I navigate home at dusk by the glow of a dim porch light in the village, a lone incandescent polestar. Wood smoke fills the valley. Brittle beech leaves rattle. Soon it’ll snow.

Warm summer is a quaint memory. I shiver in a shroud of silence. I’m restless… This waiting… It’s so quiet… Ever-the-same after leaves have fallen and before the first snowfall.