All the way back to Jr. High School, I despised November. It could have been the cold hard rains that still come. Or the darkness. Or the scurried November walk we used to have to make through an ancient cemetery in pitch black to reach our CCD class after late study hall.
But now I love November, especially the velvety darkness that accompanies it. An acquired taste, I have finally abandoned my schoolgirl fears about this misunderstood month.
Although the image above doesn't quite show the dark velvety nights I now love, I think it is an atmospheric representation of dusk in November. It is called The Sea Captain's Wife Praying by artist Charles Wysocki. The stark tree divides an early twilight sky and the moody clouds moving above a church spire report down to the foreboding sea.
I'm always shocked anew at how dark November really is. The month takes its turn at last and slams the door shut on any summer light left behind. It doesn't help that Daylight Savings ends and dark falls just after 4 o'clock in the afternoon. At first it's disconcerting to come home from work in blackness but after a few days, one gets used to it. And velvety November arrives bearing gifts...
The fact that it grows dark so quickly signals to the world-at-large that it is nighttime. I like the peace and quiet and don't miss the motorcycles zooming by and the endless traffic from the beach enclaves near me. There are less sirens and chaos - it's almost as though everyone got the memo that it's time to hunker down, close in, relax, breathe.
The lack of light gives me permission to enjoy home pastimes without a whit of guilt or thoughts that I should be outdoors still working in the yard, washing the car, and doing other tasks best done with light. In November the earth slowly drops a velvet throw about our shoulders and we have no choice but to slow down and hide. I love it.
Here are my velvety November suggestions - what are yours?
~Culinary - I crave warming soups and now is the time to make them. If you have a slow cooker, find simmering soup and stew recipes with delicious aromas that will welcome you as you turn the latch. And it's not too early to think about Thanksgiving dishes and pies.
~Pastimes - Period films and handwork go well, hand in hand...I'm knitting a baby blanket and enjoying ethereal Cornwall via the marvelous PBS series Poldark.
~Style - keeping my hands moisturized begins in November. I'm using Mary Kay Satin Hands. It's the only thing that tames my hangnails this time of year. Also, I am pulling out all my deep silken colors: a darkly verdant teal blouse paired with velvet-cords, chocolate-brown mitts for my cold hands, a woolen shawl of lavish plum, and a darker cherry lipstick.
~Books - I love reading stacks of cookbooks in November to prepare for the holidays. Old favorites on my shelf are always engrossing because they are authentic without a lot of New Age hype. I prefer cookbooks with quaint and charming hostessing ideas and menus that are accessible, attractive and reassuring.
~Tea - Afternoon tea is imperative in November. Choose something new and aromatic. I love peach teas for summer but deep into fall, I desire aromatic fushions with herbs and flowers. Tea Forte's African Solstice is a newly discovered favorite that I tried while lunching with a dear friend recently.