We raked leaves again yesterday—so different from last week. It’s been raining nearly every day now, and things are soggy. Yesterday was dry, with some afternoon sunshine, but it didn’t make much of a difference. Something in the season has shifted, and there’s no looking back.
This time the neighborhood kids needed shovels to lift the soggy leaves into the curbside bin for city composting. There was a matter-of-factness about the shared chore: it’s no fun winging soggy, half decayed leaves skyward. We worked quickly and cleared the sidewalks, gutters, and lawn of my house and our next-door neighbor’s. Then the children left to play tag in the street until we mothers called them to wash hands for dinner.
After soup and bread and cleaning the kitchen, Todd and I went for an evening walk. So different from a few weeks ago. We walked under lit streetlights, not gathering dusk. No one else was out walking in the cold and damp. Many of the leaves piled on sidewalks are dull and starting to decay—not the riot of October color I so recently exulted in.
“It feels like November,” I said to Todd. He took my hand as we turned the corner and we kept walking.
Arriving home, we found the house so cold we had to turn on the heat. The girls asked me to light candles, and they turned out the overhead light. Someone brought my Edgar Allen Poe volume of short stories, and I read “The Tell-Tale Heart” aloud by flashlight. Yes, it definitely feels like November.
We have family birthdays to celebrate this month, and deaths to remember. With heavy gray skies outside my window, I will bake bread and frost cakes. When the rain falls soft on the cedars and Douglas firs out back, I will drink coffee and I’ll write. When darkness comes earlier each evening I will read Gothic tales of mansions and rainy nights and secrets that can’t be kept. I will play music and light candles while rain and wind strip our remaining leaves from the maples. Welcome, November.