I should think it must be very difficult to be November. I imagine November sitting around a basement support group with all the other months, sporting weeks-old stubble, dressed in grays and browns, lamenting yeah, I do get a pretty cool holiday, but duuuude, that’s it! I’m like a total downer, man. I ‘m just sayin’, the longer I’m me the worse it gets. I can still hear my father yelling ‘why can’t you be more like July?’
Poor, lonely November. When Maine people hesitantly glance down from the absolute high of MayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober into the promise of bleak weather hell the other 6 months of the year. November’s almost certainly the chilly beginning of an icy, long, arduous winter. And the view is stark. It is stark indeed.
Take this particular November, for instance.
No, please, take it. Especially the past week. Take it in and warm it up and send it back to me for Christmas.
And while you’re at it, take the 120 year old house I live in, since, I should probably mention, it’s really more of a cardboard cutout play area, given that I can dry my hair with no electricity if it’s windy enough and I stand in front of one of the bigger windows. That’s just one of its many virtues.
November is capricious of course, as all children are. Its toddler days are best, with bright, sandal-wearing days and sweater-wearing nights. Some years the November teenage days are lovely and temperate, like a soul who greets even strangers with a smile. Some years, he’s just a gnarly beast, fighting about everything and bringing out the worst in everyone. One thing that you can count on, though, is that the older November gets, the more biting and brusque he becomes, the more he wallows in what used to be, grasping, in his middle age, at ever warmer days that cannot be recaptured. You can see why he’s downright unlikeable, though you find yourself hoping he can pull it off.
But November never ends up being anything but November.
Which we also love.
Because just about the time we hate him the most, like we couldn’t have seen it coming, Thanksgiving arrives. And something magical happens. November sits up a little straighter, eyes clearer and brighter. He has found something in himself worth cherishing – and so the rest of us follow suit.
We remember that we are thankful for all that has been, and all that will come, and for us Mainers, that includes winter. And snow. And sleet. And slush. And frigid air that hurts to breathe. We give thanks for shovels and plows and those icy-picky metal things you clink on your shoes so you don’t fall on your ass walking 10 feet to get the mail.
But also sledding. And skiing. And building snowmen with your children. And hot cocoa. And wet mittens by the heater. And snuggling for warmth. Hot soup. White sparkly lights everywhere. The smell of spruce in the house. Those things are also on their way.
It’s just a guess, but I’m thinking November only visits the basement support group once or twice before he puts on his suit coat and heads for the door. He’s headed home for a shower and a clean shave. He’s got a face that more than just a mother could love.