the cruelest month…
t. s. eliot was wrong—it is not april, but november.
it is november that sucks the color out of the world.
it is november that brutally strips the brilliant textured sweater off the tree and leaves it naked, shivering against the gray, cold wind.
it is november, when sky becomes steel, earth becomes stone, grass a wire brush, breath fog, each day a more rapidly drawn shade.
it is november, when time changes, and daytime suddenly drops into darkness before our supper is prepared.
it is november, when baseball ends, gloves are oiled, grass is covered, and stadiums sit silent and empty, too bleak even for ghosts to want to have a catch.
it is november, when the porch is stripped of furniture, the hose and bird bath put up lest they crack, the gutters emptied of fallen sky, a stretch of street with yards forsaken like the dormitory hall at lights out.
it is november, all gray and brown.
it is november, hangover after the harvest party, period of mourning after autumn’s exquisite expiration.
it is november, the time between—between the joy of ingathering and the wonder of incarnation—when darkness gathers, unwilling yet to be dispelled.
the month, of course, has its joys but they are humble — smell of wood smoke rising, tears for the young gone off to war, college football’s rivalry games and the beginning of basketball, a homely and heartwarming feast of thanksgiving, the quiet inauguration of advent and a new year to live within god’s story.
three of the most wonderful women in my life have birthdays in november—my mother, my wife, and my oldest daughter. this november marked the final football game of my young grandson’s junior year in high school — one of the best seasons in school history — and it was so cold that night we were almost relieved to lose. life will move more and more inside closed walls. we’ll begin rehearsing our annual worries about how to keep the heating bill down and what we’re doing for the holidays. the shivering begins.
november is the cruelest month. between time, gray and brown, it sucks the color out of the world.
Yea, I have looked, and seen November there;
The changeless seal of change it seemed to be,
Fair death of things that, living once, were fair;
Bright sign of loneliness too great for me,
Strange image of the dread eternity,
In whose void patience how can these have part,
These outstretched feverish hands, this restless heart?
• William Morris, “November“