Now that the sturm and drang of election day is over — all but the litigation — we can settle in and savor the joys of November.
November is most notable for its place in the run-up of the holiday season in these parts, bracketed as it is by Halloween on the last day of October and with Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of the month, landing anywhere from Nov. 23 to Nov. 30. November is the true end of summer’s heat is this corner of Texas with nary a 90-degree day to be had.
November is a reasonably wet and cool month around here, with the amount of autumnal color in the leaves varying according to the availability of rain in the weeks and months earlier in the year.
Two weeks into November, we have had very little rain — only 0.05 inches this month, when the average rainfall for November is almost 5 inches — and we are lagging behind last year’s yearly total by about 5 inches.
Last November, Paris had already seen five days of overnight lows of freezing or below-freezing temperatures, and high temperatures ranging from nearly 80 degrees to just a few degrees above freezing.
A lot of poets find the month of November to be gloomy and dreary, like Thomas Hood, here: “No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, No comfortable feel in any member — No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November!”
But it is important to remember that a lot of the people who made their marks in the world of poetry lived in places like the British Isles and in the northeastern states of America, where November actually is much colder with gray skies and winds whipping in off the nearby oceans.
Take Hood, for instance. He was born in London in the late 1700s and lived for a while in Scotland before ending up back in London where he died at the young age of 45. He wrote the lines above about a year before he died. Sources say he was “never a robust person” and had been confined to his bed for years before he passed away.
November in London in the 1840s was indeed a cold and gray place, full of fogs and rain and thick with coal smoke from factories as well as private homes. A poor, struggling poet with lots of medical issues might very well find it hard to stay warm there and then, even in his own sickbed, so I can understand his feelings.
November in Northeast Texas can get pretty cold, but in my experience it never stays cold for very long, and when the sun shines on the brown and yellow grass and on trees empty of leaves, it can warm the heart as well as the body.
I’ve gone on the record to say that October is my favorite month of the year, and I stand by that assertion, but November runs a close second.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, and with the skyrocketing numbers of Covid-19 cases in the country, I urge everyone to pay attention to the warnings about spreading Covid-19 to others, especially those you love, and give serious thought to staying home this holiday season. This year, cook a nice meal for yourself and for those already in your home, and don’t risk mingling with those cousins from out of state just because “that’s the only time you get to see them.” Why risk the chance that this holiday might be the last time you get to see them?
Pick up the telephone, use the computer, stay safe, so you can live to see next November.