Monday, November 27, 2023

Late November Journal

Mornings are slow. The sun, if it rises at all, seems to struggle reluctantly into a softly flushed sky. Frost silvered grass sparkles as the sun begins its shallow journey around the south ravine.
Looking over my record of November days, I concede that many of the patchy mornings have warmed into sunny afternoons. 

After a cold night frost is slow to melt away in the west meadow.

Beech leaves, glossy copper in the early days of November, have dried, curling into dark bronze husks. 
Rain and wind through the weekend have stripped the branches nearly bare since this photo was taken. 

Several days have ended with molten colors splashed across the sky. The sun sets now in the southwest; full dark spreads across the landscape, evening air strikes chill.

The sunset colors are intense for only a few minutes. Enjoying them is a matter of glancing out the windows at the precise moment when they are at their best. 

Seed balls on a sycamore.

Each year when the trees shed their leaves I become intrigued with the patterns of branches and twigs against the sky. A friend refers to the winter mode of trees as 'stick season.'

Earlier in the month while walking the path along the north ravine a whisk of movement caught my peripheral vision. A large grey squirrel dashed across fallen leaves, scampered up the tree trunk and flung himself through the opening in the bole of the tree. After a few seconds his head popped out. Seeing me, he ducked back into the bole, invisible if I hadn't known he was there. We played peek-a-boo for several minutes until I took pity on him and continued my stroll in the soft dusk. 

In spite of several nights of frost these nasturtiums have surprised me with continued bloom.

I've peered into the greenhouse expecting to find the plants limp and white with frost.
Tonight's forecast is for 29 F. Surely the cold will seep into the unheated space and there will be no more nasturtiums until early summer.

The violas [johnny-jump-ups] by the front steps have been rimed with frost on several mornings, but they perk up as the day warms.

My Thanksgiving cactus is in full bloom. It shares a table in the sunroom with a pair of white-flowered begonias. I would enjoy placing it in full view on the dining table, but Rosie-cat has a fascination with flowers. 

The month of November is a time I've sometimes found disheartening: days of damp chill, the lack of sunshine. This year November has been a kinder month--sunny afternoons, weather fit to be outdoors.
We've had rain and wind over the weekend, north-west wind that howls around the corners of the house, flings spurts of rain against the windows. 

Determined to walk the mowed path around the fields, I've pulled on boots, bundled a scarf around my head and trudged briskly. The ground along the north ravine is lumpy with fallen black walnuts and hickory nuts underfoot; at the eastern boundary fence acorns lie thick among the leaves. Sometimes Jim walks a loop with me; sometimes one or more of the cats decides to trail us part way. Where the sun slants down warmly I stop to gaze into bare treetops or to watch  clouds endlessly shifting and reforming.
There are 23 days until the solstice when imperceptibly at first the hours of daylight will lengthen through the cold of winter.
Tonight a full moon rose silver-gilt over the barn at a few minutes past six while the first stars pricked the early darkness of the sky. The wind has dropped. 
Daylight will be late and the ground likely white with frost.