Recently, I have had several random conversations about November. Many people expressed that they dread November because daylight hours are fewer, and they get depressed from not getting enough sunlight. Most of them said special indoor lighting helps and knowing that daylight hours would be increasing by the end of December. Poor November, I began to think. How did this situation happen?
November has always had my heart. It has two meaningful holidays, Veteran’s Day —
Both holidays allow us to remember those who have given something up for others, perhaps themselves, and allow us to draw closer over commonalities and resolve differences.
The fall weather has been relatively moderate and forgiving this year where I am in Maine. I can’t remember when I’ve had so many fall days all at once when I was outside in a tee shirt and shorts while planting spring bulbs. The autumn colors were surprisingly bright after a dry summer. Only this week, when I look out just before the first days of November, I see stark tree branches against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky. All of the trees in my neighborhood are bare. Except for one, and that is our backyard cottonwood.
I can’t think of a soul who doesn’t exclaim over our cottonwood’s beauty when they see her expansive branches and ginormous trunk. There’s something about her energy that captures one’s imagination. So last year, we hired Justin Brooks and his crew from Brooks Tree and Lawn to give it some attention and renewed life by clearing out dead branches. They did a terrific job with great care. One of his team told me seven trees were growing from the main trunk. I couldn’t help but think that must have a significant spiritual meaning, as the number seven often shows up in spiritual studies.
I call her Meredith, and I think she likes that.
As I scold him for not being careful of her roots when he mows the lawn, my husband will tell you I love trees, especially Meredith. I give her hugs, and she provides me shade on summer’s hottest days. She is home to insects, bugs, and many birds throughout the year. The crew working in our backyard this summer also admires our magnificent cottonwood and thought it would be a great place to place a bench and flower garden. I’ve had those same thoughts as I lie under her branches and look up at the clouds floating by.
In the late fall, after all of the surrounding trees have had their glory, Meredith’s dinner plate-sized leaves turn from green to yellow over a few days. Then, November wears on, and her “leaf castle” has entirely changed color; the leaves begin to make staccato sounds as they fall through her stately branches, accumulating on the ground to form an expansive yellow carpet. Or, if we haven’t yet closed the pool, for a day, become sailboats with other leaves, reminding us that life is perhaps about both the destination and the journey.
“My lovely November. Have you seen my heart somewhere in your castle of yellow leaves?” (A Waltz to Zizi)