November is the cruelest month. Darkness lingers long then settles in on the edges of day like tunnel-vision, grainy as sand. Gone is the retina piercing splendor of Autumn foliage. Images of November rarely find their way onto picture postcards of New England; the only bright colors left in the woods are those of hunters and the others that prefer not to be mistaken for a trophy buck. Shades of grey reign in the darkness on the edge of town.
Whatever snow tends to fall doesn’t last, yet the wind bites like shards of glass as I pause on the edge of the field. The trees along the perimeter stand waiting for snow wearing shorts with black socks and sandals over their roots like old men, veiny arms lifted skyward as if to surrender. Wheezing with the wind, they shiver and stretch for a thermostat that’s never quite within reach. It’s time to either suck it up and get tough or put your head down and dodge buckshot. Although I suppose hibernation may be another option.
Not a very good option, of course. I prefer to be outside so I pedal over to the cove. While the season of darkness may be upon us there is still much to see and experience out here in the cold. Hibernation is for the bears! I choose to fight and resist the temptation of the woodstove and couch.
Around me the world exhales with the spirits of sea smoke as the first arctic air of the season overruns the warm waters of the ocean. The rocks lay defiant and mute as always. Vapor, you may escape for now but you’ll be back. Try as you might to escape into the vacuum of night, we’ll see you again as snowfall – the sooner the better! You wraiths will be sliced with the ski edges of Norse gods someday.
With the days growing short the ocean and all beings between it and the sky draw one final receding wave of breath before settling in for the fight to come. The hemisphere inexorably tips away from the sun, the world freezes over and steels itself for winter.
I enjoy the cold burn of the wind upon my cheeks for a final moment before retreating into the shelter of the forest.
“… and I’ll pay the cost
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town” – Bruce Springsteen