“The house was very quiet, and the fog—we are in November now—pressed against the windows like an excluded ghost.” ― E.M. Forster, Howards End
“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”― Emily Dickinson
Here it is, the end of November, pressing away and I have the privilege to do the last post for November of 2023. November derives from the Latin root novem – meaning “nine” because in the Roman calendar, there were only ten months and November was the ninth, which marks the point in the year when the cold sets in.
I think of the many trips back to my Illinois roots, often times in November. We could enjoy a surprisingly brisk sunny day or wake up to a skiff of snow. Looking outside my parents’ kitchen window to the north is what I saw over three days after I arrived in the sunshine. The first snow silently cluttered atop roofs and yards, fields, and playgrounds.
I am sitting in my parents’ tiny kitchen looking out the window and having a cup of my dad’s weak coffee. (I soon learned to make myself a pot before he got up, pouring the strong coffee into a carafe I found deep in their closet.) Across the yard, lay wide empty fields, now harvested, and beyond that, a sturdy long borderline of trees that marked the woods. The fog this morning was dense as usual, slowly allowing the eye to see the barn outline become larger in the near distance, the end of the yard and the old tractor shed, now part-time car garage. All the pecan tree limbs were bare, black, and slick-looking from the fog. As I sat having coffee, my mom was in the background in her housecoat and reading the newspaper. The salt block finally becomes visible. Dad keeps it at the edge of the field by the shed for deer. Deer in these parts are as thick as ticks in Pike County. Thick.
Mom muttered something about what happened in a nearby town, and some recipe in the paper that looked ‘just’ awful. I watch the Dark-eyed Junco and Black-capped Chickadees on the feeder when suddenly, back in the distance, heads begin to emerge. It starts as a fuzzy dark rectangle, then takes a shape, a nose, tall alert ears, the soft breast and legs of a deer. Another, and another—like ghosts emerging from a mist, a make-believe place hidden among the thick fog. By now their hair is thicker, a bit longer, and darker as well as their undercoat to protect them from the cold. They slowly emerge through the dense gray haze, their bodies form into shapes, into needs and they bow their heads and lick the salt. My mind sort of went loamy as if I were the one to fade away into a rising mist—beautiful, gentle deer.
I have walked and run through those same trees, over the creeks, for miles and miles as a kid through all seasons. Seen a deer startled, leaping up and bounding over a fence like a whiff of smoke, then as suddenly, disappear—into their own wild Brigadoon.
I hope your November nourished you with life-long memories.
Weekend Kitchen Counter Fixins
Mexican Green Chili, Ham and Pinto Beans