Blog : Snow

November

November

If I were the sort of person who was forced to spend sixth months in a more tax advantageous state, it would be a struggle for me. In order to find those six months and that extra day, it’s obvious that you’d need to be in that warmer state for the months of December, January, February, March and April. The problem is that those months only count to five, and I’d still be missing a month, and that day. On one hand, the month of May is typically, mostly, awful. It wouldn’t be a sin to miss such a month of Midwestern spring. But on the other hand, May is delightful, with blooms and birds and rising trout and calm waters. Who could trade a month of incredible change for yet another month of tedious sun and boring, swaying palm trees. Everyone look, I found another shell shaped like a heart!

Beyond May, who could trade December? What could possess someone of Midwestern roots to wish for a Holiday season spent without snow? How does one roast Chestnuts over an open fire while looking foolish in shorts and flip flops? What’s the point of hot chocolate if you’re already warm? I can see a trip to the warmth for a Holiday novelty once in a great while, but every year? You’d have to put up a fake tree, and then you’d need to decorate it with obnoxious things like ornaments of starfish and stone crabs. I can’t watch football games while also sweating. December would be a tough month to trade.

November is an option, and indeed nearly everyone who spends their lives hoping for the six months plus one ends up swapping November. This is the most egregious of the month swaps. Why would I trade this month? I just spent the last six months of color looking forward to this month of dull grays and browns. I love the still of November. The lake finds some peace. The fields turn gold and then tan and finally pale. The woods shed their leaves and show us what they’ve been hiding all summer. The month finishes with a celebration of the harvest, one last, big dinner to show our appreciation. The month is quiet and it’s still and yes, it’s dark, but it’s my kind of dark and I wouldn’t trade it for bright colors and soft salty waves.

But this year things may be different. This morning, with this blanket of insufferable snow and crunchy iced over roadways, I may be willing to negotiate with November. If November is going to count as winter, and I’m not going to get to see those dull pale colors that I love so much, then I’m open to trading November. I hate the months that don’t do anything well, which is why I hate March, and April for that matter. But now the weather has come for my steady November, and I wish it hadn’t. The issue here is even if I trade November and hang onto December then I’m still going to have to trade May. This is the problem, and we haven’t even begun to debate that extra day.

In Praise Of November

In Praise Of November

Writing hasn’t been easy lately. It’s not that I don’t want to write, because I do. I want to write. If I write that enough I might believe it. If I believe it then I might act on it. If I act on it, well, then it’ll be true. But it’s not just the writing that has proven more difficult these days. It’s everything. It’s the typing and the talking and the sleeping. A poll would be helpful, something to find out when sleep no longer comes softly and easily. I’m at the point now, just a few months shy of forty, or a few months into 39, depending. I want to be productive. I want to keep this business moving forward at this pace. I want to do lots of things, but it’s November, and how many times can I beg you to hire me?

But the afternoon yesterday was gray and dark. It wasn’t ominous, no, ominous is something that happens in June, or April. Something that happens in July, when the clouds are low and the lightening strikes. They say November is the clash of seasons, of warm air and cold air battling over this town. But there’s no battle really. The warm air has already lost. These are just the last puffs of life, the last hints of warmth on our cool skin. It won’t be warm again for quite some time. The cold air has won. Winter will be here soon.

This is the in between. There is cold rain in April, but no song was ever written about it.  We should give thanks in June, but no one gets Thursday off in June. We harvest in May, that first sweet crop of hay, of rye and clover, but no one counts the harvest then. A year is not made in June and it is not lost then, either. But it’s November now, and it’s time for all of those things. It’s time for dark skies and faded leaves. It’s time for one last mow of the season. For me, this week will be my third last mow of the year.

There is great mourning now. Long pauses about how awful things are now, and how great they were then. Summery things are memories now, and those who found time to make some have a greater sense of what is now lost. I’d rather be boating, the bumper sticker says. It’s true in November, for most. But it’s calm out now and it’s gray and when people text me about how depressing this weather is I tend to take offense. What is so awful about it?  Is there not equal beauty in that field with the low sun peaking through on the western horizon, lighting the stalks of just harvested horse corn? Field Corn, my  Grandma May would chide.

The Tribune yesterday was filled with skiing. Snow, mountains, West. Buy skis now, before they’re all sold. Buy your Epic Pass by November 19th, the ads and my son warn. It’s urgent really, this warning. Do This or you’ll miss out.  Do This or be stuck. People are fleeing to the islands now. To warmer weather, of any sort. Desert, with purple horizons. Mountains, capped with increasing snow. Beaches, dazzling turquoise. Warmth and sand, sweat and TSA. Travel Now, the Tribune said. Make Plans Now, an admonition. If you don’t, you know what will happen. Winter is coming. Run while you still can.

But why would I run? Why wouldn’t I want to see that field, bright and yet dull, vibrant in a shade of browns and grays that no beach could ever, ever match. Why does everyone hate November? Why is the harvest not magic? The granaries overflowing with corn and beans, the tractors slowly plodding down a two  lane country road, throwing mud into the air and slowing the scant rural traffic, the scene decidedly and undoubtedly perfect. Our fields now are as beautiful as any beach. Any mountain. Any desert sky, no matter how faded purple and pink it may be.  November isn’t the in between, not at all. November isn’t a fight between winter and fall. It isn’t something to run from. It’s just a month, deserving of your admiration, requiring nothing but your presence.

Just A Dusting

Just A Dusting

It’s snowing again. And the coffee tasted the same. The man at the corner with the portable Stop sign waved, but he didn’t want to. The FREE AIR at the gas station was still free, the hose coiled on the ground, dirty and wet. Just a dusting. The man on the television said it would be just a dusting, maybe an inch, two tops, but probably just a dusting. That’s what he said last week, Saturday.  The wind blew and blew and the snow came in bands, alternating the sky between bright blue and dark with snow. Just a dusting he promised, but it was more than a dusting, it was an inch.

My car has a low tire. It’s had the low tire for a month, maybe longer. The tire is new, which leads me to believe that there’s a nail somewhere in the tread, maybe a screw. Whatever it is, it’s sharp and it’s stuck in that tire and that’s why I leave the car in my garage most of the time.  I washed the car a month ago, under an intense spring sun, so bright and so big that the water dried on the car too fast and now I have hard water streaks and spots. The snow today will help with that, but the snow might be hard too, even though there’s barely a dusting in the forecast. There’s more than that on the hood of the car already.

The fire is on again. I say it’s on, rather than it’s burning, because it’s a fire for lazy cheats. There’s a gas line under all that soot, and so when I make the fire it’s really just about turning a valve and then sparking a lighter. I bought the lighter at the gas station two days ago, about one month after the last lighter, the winter lighter, gave out. When I bought the lighter I felt nervous, like a kid buying a lighter because I was going to go have a smoke with the cigarettes I found on the side of the road when I was walking home from school. It was spring then, too. So I told the gas station clerk that the lighter was for my fireplace, because I didn’t want her to wonder.

The fire burns but it only burns because of the lit gas. I don’t have kindling here. There’s paper, some of the local one with my name in it because I’m a rebel who doesn’t like mass development when there aren’t masses of people to buy the mass produced vinyl sided product. But I don’t burn that paper because I throw it out. I mean, I recycle it. Yes, I recycle it, that’s what I meant to say. The fire burns wood that came from Black Point, from the back yard of a client’s house where he cuts down small, dead trees and stacks the cylinder-like logs. I load those into my fishing truck that’s really a silver Lexus and I drive those to my office. My son loads the wood into my open storage containers and when he’s done I give him $2.

It’ll snow for a while still, I think. The man on the TV said it was only going to snow for a little longer, but no one believes him anymore. It might snow all day, it might not. It might be like last Sunday when the temperature rose 40 degrees during the day and then started the next morning where it had started the prior one. What sort of warm front only lasts a few hours? I asked the weatherman through his Twitter account but the question stumped him, so he didn’t answer. It’s spring now and it’ll only be a dusting.