November Portrait

November Portrait

This post is contributed by Barnaby Porter from his archives. Read the previous post here.

Every now and then a friend will remark, “I don’t like November much.” And I wonder, can this be a friend of mine who maligns another with so closed a mind, who writes off an entire month simply to feed a foul humor? November is a friend too, and I am uncomfortable with having to defend one against the other. So, I don’t.

One thing can be said for November: It is an honest month, hardworking and as earnest in it’s ready-making for winter as any could be. “And the eleventh will be a time of grace, a stretch of days and weeks in which to tend to all you have left undone, punctuated with moments to reflect on all that has gone before and ample time to gather those comforts which will see you through. But you mustn’t squander them; they are numbered.” That’s seasoned thinking.

As one old geezer put it, “November gives you thirty days to pull your pants up. Either you’re ready or you ain’t, and if you ain’t, you’ll know it.”

Such is the nature of the eleventh month. It does require that we keep our heads down with long stints at the woodpile and a fair amount of blowing on the hands, but to take its full measure requires a weather eye as well, because November is mostly wheeling in the sky – scudding gray clouds and raw, cold rain, yes, and gales sweeping across the bay. But oh, what golden dawns and crimson setting suns! An old hollow apple tree stands alone in the pasture, a single yellow leaf waiting for a gust of wind. The land lies naked, stripped down to twigs and stone walls and rabbits skipping through the swamps. And high up, beating wings whistle on the chill air; a flight of black ducks circles wide, setting wings for a lee shore.

Quiet coves and fir thickets, retreats for pounding hearts, and whispering barns full of hay – they wait for winter too. November, month of grace, is the weather watcher’s friend, but at last, from the north and west, will come November’s end.

boat moored against a backdrop of sunlit fall foliage

Image by Barnaby Porter – click for a larger view.

Barnaby PorterArtist and author Barnaby Porter has had a varied career in marine research, aquaculture, and woodworking, among others. Most recently he partnered with his wife Susan as co-owners of the Maine Coast Book Shop & Cafe in downtown Damariscotta. In October 2021, Barnaby completed his tenure on Coastal Rivers’ Board of Trustees after six years of service.