Monday, November 26, 2007

November musing

(The photo is "Pomona" by Julia Margaret Cameron)

Goddess of the orchards: where do you go in winter? Do you merely sit beneath a favorite tree and let the frost and ice and snow preserve you until springthaw? Are you hightailing it to the tropics? Are you hoarding bags of grain and bushels of fruit in your cold cellar? Do you order pizzas and pore over gardening catalogs by candlelight? I hope your winter is warm and healing. Thanks for the fruit.

November weather is confounding. Robert Bly evokes some intriguing thoughts in this simple poem:

The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!

My last walk in the trees has come. At dawn
I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.

It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odors that partridges love.

- Robert Bly, "Solitude Late at Night in the Woods"

I love the golden beauty of November, the winds that carry the mist of heavy dark mornings, usually warmer than seems possible, then turning cold and mean in minutes. I love the way colors meld into one another until some daring hues burst forth in a last passionate yelp of life: the rich yellow beeches, the bright pink fothergilla, the deep crimson Japanese maples, the last vivid blooms on die-hard snapdragons, asters and chrysanthemums. This sonnet describes the month's beauty in familiar and warming images:

I am rich today with autumn's gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold;
Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod,
A goldfinch on a milkweed pod,
Huge golden pumpkins in the field
With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield,
Golden apples heavy on the trees
Rivaling those of Hesperides,
Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread
Over all like butter on warm bread;
And the harvest moon will this night unfold
The streams running full of molten gold.
Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!

- Gladys Harp

I love the multitude of crows at dusk that gather for their soiree of screeching song. I see them on my daily walks this time of year, watch them fly from all across the area to a wooded spot behind the orphanage/school in my neighborhood, I stand beneath the trees they sit in and watch them flit to and fro. Their chatter comforts and intrigues me. The sight of them against the greying sky and naked branches makes me catch my breath.

Apples are freezing on the trees. Thank the gods for cold storage but the time of fresh, crunchy apples that have just been picked is gone now for the season, and there wont be more until the cheeky early varieties blush and crisp in August.

I planted a few bulbs the other day, thinking I had not more opportunity since the ground has had its upper layer frozen several times now. But it rained this morning and now the ground is soft again. Do I put those last few tulips and daffodils in my yard here or bring them to Boston? It is still somewhat warmer there.

I have cleaned and oiled the tools,clipped shut the bags of bone meal and bulb booster, I have stored the dahlia tubers in sand. The begonias got wet and I need to dry them before storing. The back room smells like compost and carrion.


Bo said...

I enjoyed this post. You write so beautifully and literately. Sorry I don't check over here as much as I should - shocked by the illegal downloading thing you describe above. Pagans really do take the piss some times.

Peg said...

Thanks for visiting! Hope the onset of winter finds you well...I miss Oxford.