November Reflections

Many moons ago, I was born in South Africa in late November when the jacaranda trees were in full bloom and summer was around the corner. In the Northern Hemisphere, where I now live, November is generally considered a bleak month.  It ranks with March as being one of the most gloomy, dreary and temperamental months. Many loathe November and find it is a month to be endured until the Christmas season brings a little light and beauty to the shorter and darker days. I however finds reasons to celebrate November, and not only because it is the month I was born in.

To illustrate my point, let me share with you a wonderful November day which included sunshine, wonder, beauty, and merriment.

I woke up on a misty November morning, looked out the loft windows and saw the fields below and hills on the other side of the river covered in hoarfrost. The browns and the greys and the greens were transformed into a Disneyesque frozen kingdom, and I couldn’t wait to grab my coffee, throw on my coat and walk the dog down the lane. The sun shone brightly by the time I made my way to the front field and I stopped to just soak it in.  There was an intensity to the sky, the air was clear and fresh, and a feeling of contentment filled my soul.  How glorious in a weekend brimming with activity to have this tranquil moment.

Aronia berries with a kiss of frost
Morning has broken

Next on the day’s agenda were my usual rounds in the village followed by a wreath-making workshop at the historic Fairbairn House.  While the temperature was below zero, the cold was bearable.  Twenty plus eager folks made their way into the barn where Danielle and Ingrid had placed basic grapevine wreaths of varying sizes on the tables in the barn. Ingrid shared with the group how the very bounty of our own landscape, the variety of flowers and evergreens, would be used to create our wreaths.

Beginning with the grapevines, then layering with cedar, spruce and pine and adding the Daylily leaves to tie things in place, we created our individual visions.  Occasionally string or wire was used, but by and large, nature provided the means to keep everything in place.  We added dried echinacea, various seed heads, pinecones, hydrangea and more, letting our creative instincts unfold under the guidance of Danielle and Ingrid, who were always encouraging and inspiring. Such fun!

Wreath complete and quite pleased with my handiwork, I drove home to get ready for a virtual trip to Sweden with my Alta Vista dinner club. Friends were gathering to enjoy a collective “Husmanskost” of Swedish delicacies, which included aquavit, and large does of hilarity, a staple of this delightful group of friends who have been meeting for 20 years and sharing in almost 100 theme dinners! The table was beautiful, the candles twinkled, the eats were delicious.

The midnight hour and back to the hills we drove.  The drive along the canal and Sussex Drive beautified with Christmas lights.  And then that sweet spot past Old Chelsea, when the magic of the night and the peace of the hills takes over. Finally, almost home, we turned on Chemin des Erables and up the hill to be greeted by a crescent moon suspended above the hills and the frosty fields.  Once home and stepping out of the car into the dark night, the constellations surrounded us. I saw the Big Dipper with its handle beginning over Farellton and its bucket perched over the north hill near my home.  I breathed deeply of the night air, gave a contented sigh and thought to myself, what a perfect day.  November, you truly can delight!