November 2, 2014

November Mix

The November nor'easter.
The patch of blue in
the middle is snow.
A nor’easter blew through southern New England overnight.  The wind stripped the leaves off of many deciduous trees – not that leaves were exactly in abundance before the storm – leaving the landscape what I call ‘winter ready’: just add snow.  And, in fact, at about 9 a.m., the steady rain has shifted to that the meteorologists call a “wintry mix”.

            I enjoyed this autumn.  After a summer with mild temperatures but little rain, September came in with galoshes full of the stuff.  Despite temperatures dipping into the mid-thirties several times, we never experienced the hard frost that turns annuals black and causes perennials to cry out to be pruned to stubble.  In fact, we took apart the last half dozen container gardens last week; not because the annuals in them had died but, rather, because their coleus and calibrochoa had become leggy due to the days having grown so short.  There’s even lettuce in garden.

A view out the window.  The
snow is just visible.
It’s a good time to be outdoors. It’s just warm enough to take long walks and cool enough to appreciate being back inside when the walk is over.  On those walks your eye is attuned to catch the small things.  Winterberry grows in the edge of the woods on our property and, until November, I don’t notice it’s there.  This week, bare of leaves, the bright red berries stood out again the muted colors around it. 

This is what fothergilla 'Mt. Airy'
looked like yesterday morning.
November beings a sense of closure to the season.  We have multiple native shrubs in our garden – itea, devil’s ninebark, and several cultivars of fothergilla – that are putting on a final show of late autumn color this week.  But by the end of the month they, too, will succumb to the inevitable.  Then, all that is left to close out the season is a final mowing to mulch the season's leaves into the lawn to provide next spring's nutrients.

I grew up in a land that had no ‘autumn’; in Miami, November was just another month. It has taken decades to understand how important it is to see, feel and experience the changing of the seasons.  Winter will be here in a few weeks.  For now, I’m quite content to put off that inevitability.


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