It was so dark when I woke up this morning I (very mistakenly) thought I had hours left to sleep. In this moment, I’m drowning out the wind with daytime television dedicated to cold and flu season. And at the same time, the rain is tangling itself up with dead leaves and hitting my window with no respect for my concentration or the guest on Cityline. The doom is real, the gloom even more so. And, with November just arrived, I couldn’t possibly be happier.
It’s chic to hate November, and it also makes sense. It’s the nothing month between the vibrancy of October and the festivities of December. It’s cold. It’s damp. It brings with it the the rumblings of seasonal despair. In Canada, it’s too late for decorative gourds and too early for Christmas trees. And while the United States at least serves up the post-Thanksgiving Day parade dog show, its bleakness can’t be totally overshadowed by corgis who leap and pose. I’d be delusional to dispute the quiet sadness that comes with November. In part because that’s why I love it so much.
We live in a society that thrives on celebration. We bounce from long weekends to national holidays, not letting the realities of simply existing catch up to us. From cottage season we bound into Labour Day, embracing the majesty of autumn before prepping for Thanksgiving and finally Halloween. But even before that, holiday decor begins springing up in malls and shops, assuring us that once we tire of jack-o-lanterns and AMC FearFest, we can lose ourselves in wintry traditions that expire by Jan. 1.
But I don’t want to.
I need a palate cleanser – a moment of rest before stuffing myself with turkey and mini chocolate bars and then cookies and pastries and holiday cheer. I need permission to stay inside and just be, to relish the last gasp of nature’s oranges, reds, and warm yellows as it rains (but not snows) with enough force that I don’t have to justify cancelling plans. I need to remind myself that everything dies and not in the scary-spooky sense of the word. November is the twilight of our year and a last chance to marinate in everything the preceding months brought. It feels sad because it is sad. Endings are difficult and goodbyes are hard. And November, with its greyness and dampness and waves of endless clouds, forces you to reconcile that what was once alive will wash away. The trees we sat under this summer are sleeping now and the squirrels have begun hiding away.
Without the acknowledgment of death or of endings, we can’t possibly appreciate the full scope of being alive. Compared to the murkiness of November, even the dullest spring and summer days seem vibrant, beautiful and full of promise. Compared to long and rainy nights, warm evenings spent on patios seem like a rare treat. November, so grey and so sad, gives us a platform on which to appreciate the full scope of our seasons. After all, they say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
Which isn’t to say I hate the beauty of a crisp October day or the merriment of Christmas. I live for Food Network holiday-themed programming. But I’d still trade all of it for the calmness and quietness of gloomy November where I can sit wrapped in a large blanket-shawl and do nothing but eat bread and soup. Probably because my best relationships are always defined by the ease in which we can co-exist quietly and simply be.