|in case you forgot which ones are the Dahlias|
|half killed by frost|
I didn't really learn to love November though till college, when I went to Houghton, a beautiful campus set in "the middle of nowhere," where there is not a single stop light, and making a proper grocery store run is a 40some minute trek through farmland and forest. Coming off of campus there is a certain road, named "Centerville," where I would walk several miles nearly every Sunday afternoon during three of my years at Houghton. It was a special pleasure in the fall, as each week more of the trees would turn crimson or orange, and then the colors would all fade to ashy gray. After all that color, the browns and yellows and grays seemed so peaceful, so rugged even. Perhaps it seemed particularly peaceful in contrast to the increasing workload of the semester. In a conversation about the month years back one of my friends said that a November landscape in very romantic, in a harsh, wild, Bronte-esque sort of romance. Another friend wrote a poem about November as the glowing center of a hearth when the fire is burned down. We were very connected to the seasons at Houghton, and we liked to talk about these things.
|struggling against the cold|
When my dad was young, his mother grew dahlias in their yard in Detroit. And in November the flowers would still be in bloom so very evening before a hard frost he would help her cover the dahlias with newspaper to keep them alive until morning. They would do this many times during the month, each threatening night putting up little paper barricades against the cold. But there would always come a time when the weatherman disappointed, and the cold was harsher than he and his mother expected, or perhaps they would have covered the plants only to find them the next morning edged in frost. And for that little glimpse in time before the sun rose the dahlias were more beautiful than ever. He would run inside for drawing paper and then sketch the frozen blossoms with his chilly hands, quickly before they melted and turned brown.
I know that November can be harsh and dark and ugly, and people have good reasons for disliking it, especially here in Holland where the spring is such a feast for the eyes, but I still love it. The long shadows, the golden light in the cold air, the wool socks, the snuggling up with covers, or the smell of dry leaves, or their crackle underfoot. I love the raw skies with their long, blue-gray clouds. It seems there is always so much to be thankful for, and so much to love.