Ever since moving back here in late fall of 2001, I’ve believed November to be the loveliest month on the farm. Absent the verdant brilliance of June or the stunning golden and crimson colors of October, November has a quiet splendor, with its yellowed fields, early sunsets and bare gray tree branches. Five days into November, here are some of this year’s hallmarks of a magnificent month:
* The sight of the ten-year-old who lives next door on her cantering horse, the sunlight falling across the girl and horse in flashing planes of yellow as they carve wide circles over the yellow-green grass of the pasture
* The sheep hustling out of their enclosure in the morning as soon as I unlatch the gate to get their share of the hay before the cows decimate the bales
* A six-point antlered buck crossing the driveway just in front of me, stopping turn his big head slowly to look at me with big brown eyes before he steps on into the woods
* Yellow leaves so thick across the footpath that I can’t see the border between gravel path and the grass
* Frost making a smooth white plane across the lawn as the sun rises
* Hank, a very large bull, breaking the top plank of the fence as he pushes his neck through to eat the few remaining leaves on a tree at the edge of our yard
* A border of ice on the brook first thing in the morning
* Squirrels skittering along the fences
* The dog, uncharacteristically barking into the darkness when I let her out before bedtime. Maybe she sees a coyote? A bear?
The growing season is ending. The ground will freeze soon. But living things are busy at this time of year: some growing, eating, foraging; others – leaves and plants – dying. November’s assets repeat themselves year after year, appearing to me to be lovelier with each year that goes by.