For me, it’s that month: even as many of us have grudgingly pushed the hour hand back a notch and adopted a hunch-shouldered shuffle to get across the icy months, I find November the month of transcendent light. True, that’s often a tough sell, but let me explain, in words, and also with some photos of remembered Novembers.
Just yesterday, when the whole region seemed afflicted by the form of jet lag that is the time change, I went out into the gathering dusk of 4:00 p.m. A lid of stratus had slid over the low sun, and only the rusty oaks held still their leaves. The few dog walkers I met had indeed pulled in their necks like retreating turtles, even as their dogs knew the real story: they were bounding about open mouthed, sniffing the day’s many messages. But we’ll leave the dogs for another story.
As seems to happen often at this time of year, the clouds had left a low slot of open sky on the southwestern horizon, and when the sun slipped into that slot, the light rushed through it and across the fields, finding there a fringe of oaks. The oaks, all muted russets and yellows, lit suddenly like flares; their light flew up into the sky and back into our eyes.
A few yards away, I heard one dogwalker say, “Whoa! Look at that!” And the canid tribe broke into general exclamation. And their necks stretched out from their upturned collars.
So it is in this season of clear light, which hurries through the thin-branched woods and catches every scrap of color that hangs on or floats in the wind. Its short days emphasize the need to go out, to extend yourself.
Thoreau, of course, was often out in November, sampling its light, stretching its days.