Monday, November 16, 2009

November Days

I think the cats wore themselves out with predicting the weather last week. The high winds have calmed, today was sunny and cold. These three, the youngsters, lined up on the old blanket chest to enjoy sunshine warmth this morning. Lt to Rt: Teasel, Chester, Jemima.

A study in frosted dun colors. On Sunday morning, before the sun came around the house, this pair of mourning doves huddled on the chilly, faded grass. In springtime we see both mourning doves and ring-necked doves. They drifted away at the end of summer, now they are in evidence again.

Undecided weather. Clouds and wind several days ago. Icy drops of rain blew in on cold gusts of wind.

My wits are not sufficiently lively to produce any of the several essays which I've been mulling. Today, after nearly 5 months of negotiating and revision of contracts, the closing on the sale of the spec house took place. We had to concede in a time of diminished market what we had hoped would be a retirement "nest egg" and took a 5 1/2 acre parcel of land in the next town as partial down payment. So, rather than a feeling of celebration, there is only a weary sigh of relief that the sale was at last realized. [The young woman who manages home mortgages for our bank was at the closing and suggested that perhaps we might all sing the Hallelujah Chorus to mark the long-awaited event!]

We were home from the closing just before noon, a bit out of step with the usual order of the day. J. is contemplating a renovation to this 3 year old house---opening up the area in the rafters to create a second story space. As he was explaining his plans, M. our son-in-law, came in to chat for a moment and we all stood looking out the dining room window toward the pond, which sparkled under a coating of glassy ice. M. spied our daughter's beloved but incorrigable tiger cat, Tarbaby, stepping daintily across the ice. He shouted at him through the window and hurried out, while we watched, expecting the ice layer to collapse under the cat's weight. He made it to the other side of the pond, completely unflustered, and sauntered beneath the old willow to terrorize unwitting birds. A cat with a prounounced death wish!

My creative efforts lately have involved an extra hour per day at the quilt shop as we try to ready our boss for "Cowboy Christmas" upcoming in Las Vegas the first week of December. At home I'm scrambling to complete a queen sized quilt before the cut off date next week, after which our long-arm machine quilter will not promise returns before Christmas.

J. has finished the side entry roof construction and is awaiting the delivery of the few sheets of metal to cover it. I arrived home from work to find him in a flurry of cleaning the attached garage. I climbed over tools, coughed on the cloud of sawdust and tracked in grit which he was energetically attacking, squeezed around the large table saw parked in front of the door and entered to the welcome of the cats and the promise of hot tea.

As a literary offering, here is another excerpt from Rowland E. Robinson's "In New England Fields and Woods", from the centennial edition published in 1937. Long, intricate sentences, but words that create a recognizable picture for those of us who observe the nuances of seasons and days.

November Days

"In a midsummer sleep one dreams of winter, its cold, its silence and desolation all surrounding him; then awakens, glad to find himself in the reality of the light and warmth of summer.

Were we dreaming yesterday of woods more gorgeous in their leafage than a flower garden in the flush of profusest bloom, so bright with innumerable tints that autumnal blossoms paled beside them as stars at sunrise? Were we dreaming of air soft as in springtime, of the gentle babble of brooks, the carol of bluebirds, the lazy chirp of crickets, and have suddenly awakened to be confronted by the desolation of naked forests, the more forlorn for the few tattered remnants of gay apparel that flutter in the bleak wind? To hear but the sullen roar of the chill blast and the clash of stripped boughs, the fitful scurry of wind-swept leaves and the raving of swollen streams, swelling and falling as in changing stress of passion, and the heavy leaden patter of rain on roof and sodden leaves and earth?

Verily, the swift transition is like a pleasant dream with an unhappy awakening. Yet not all November days are dreary. Now the sun shines warm from the steel-blue sky, its eager rays devour the rime close on the heels of the retreating shadows, and the north wind sleeps. The voice of the brimming stream falls to an even softer cadence, like the murmer of pine forests swept by the light touch of a steady breeze.

Then the wind breathes softly from the south, and there drifts with it from warmer realms, or arises at its touch from the earth about us, or falls from the atmosphere of heaven itself, not smoke, nor haze, but something more ethereal than these: a visible air, balmy with odors of ripeness as the breath of June with the perfume of flowers. It pervades earth and sky, which melt together in it, till the bounds of neither are discernible, and blends all objects in the landscape beyond the near foreground, till nothing is distinct but some golden gleam of sunlit water, bright as the orb that shines upon it. Flocks of migrating geese linger on the stubble fields, and some laggard crows flap lazily athwart the sky, or perch contentedly upon the naked treetops as if they cared to seek no clime more genial. The brief heavenly beauteousness of Indian Summer has fallen upon the earth, a few tranquil days of ethereal mildness dropped into the sullen or turbulent border of winter.

In November days, as in all others, the woods are beautiful to the lover of nature and to the sportsman who in their love finds the finer flavor of his pastime. Every marking of the gray trunks, each moss-patch and scale of lichen on them, is shown more distincly now in the intercepted light, and the delicate tracery of the bare branches and their netted shadows on the rumpled carpet of the forest floor, have a beauty as distinctive as the fullness of green or frost-tinted leafage and its silhouette of shade."


  1. Love that long essay on the seasons. I will have to Google him because I didn't recognize the name.
    You're right about the laptop not being quite so convenient. I set it up this evening to transfer all my blog list to it, in case we have wi fi where we are going. it makes my fingers ache.
    As for Bailey and where he will be (whisper this...) he goes to the kennels! Like your cats he does dreadful things when we are gone and we had the most perfect sitters for him, but it wasn't good enough. Sadly, we may have to replace the carpet, and it was brand new when we first left him about five years ago. We've tried everything and now we can't tell the difference between the chemicals and the original smell!

  2. I'm glad that the sale finally went ahead - a very frustrating time for you both.

    Sadly our November weather here has got to the fairly unrelentingly windy/rainy. I have just been sat here listening to a heavy squall of rain spatter against the window in the pitch black.

    Rowland Robinson's style of writing takes some concentration, but is very evocative. Not much chance to walk in the woods here at present, but I know what he means about paying attention to things like tree bark and here in Wales, the few tattered remnants of late summer flowers. We had our Indian summer though - now the winds sweep in from the West . . .

  3. Hullo MM,

    Its hard when plans dont go as well as expected for the business but things will turn around I'm sure. At least you appear to have reduced your burden a wee bit and maybe thats just the start of it. I hope it goes well for you.

    Tarbaby obviously feels he has lives to spare. I smiled when I read that name. I hadn't heard that since I was a bairn and read of a character in a book called by the very same [un pc] name. Could it have been 'Brer Rabbit'?

    I found your book excerpt very descriptive but struggled with the floweriness of the language which felt very victorian to me. Its a shame we have lost the will {and skill too sometimes} to expend effort of concentration in what we read to a great extent these days. Of course language can be very impactful when stripped down and can still be highly descriptive too, yet there is a lot to be said about taking the time to construct, to write, read and appreciate when language is used as a way of celebrating the beauty of other things in the way this author can. You have to take the time to let the pace, quality and power of the words move your imagination through the landscape he is creating.

    In many ways you have to do that at his pace, which is something that I sometimes struggle with, with my modern 'just get on with it/things to do-people to see' attitudes. Modern life has conditioned us to be consumers of instant gratification and dismissive of almost everything that fails to meet the time frames. Living today we see too that new generations have accepted this without question and indeed are actually demanding faster/shorter/simpler as a means of better ways of communication and thats such a shame but in reality not any differerent to our own history.

    What a pity you dont see these things when you are younger eh?

    Thanks for making me pause and take a moment to consider a different perspactive.

    Kind regards.......Al.

  4. I am glad the sale was sorted ...even though it was not exactly what you hoped for.
    I cannot believe what a hard worker J is ...always on the go building something are so lucky to have a man who is good with his hands.
    I love the way cats seek out the thinest ray of sun and just lie there but if a whole area is warmed by even winter sun ...they look as though they have found a bowl of cream.

  5. I have been back a couple of times and I so love your Siamese -- double the trouble, double the fun! But Teasel looks to be a very beautiful cat, -- a silvery gray? She needs a post by herself to appreciate her beauty.

    We leave in about an hour, but I'm already to walk out the door.