the naked month

by bam

i know this makes me something of an eeyore, but i’ve a confession to make: i love gray days. and days and weeks when all the world is stripped of excess, pared back to strictly elemental. when even a smidge of color–save. maybe, for the blood red of a clump of berries–is uncalled for, unnecessary.

i happened to mention that aloud yesterday, in the place where i type on tuesdays, and, oh my, it caused a stir. you might have thought i said something odd, perhaps, something along the lines of, “i like a little gravel in my oatmeal.”

now that gustatory revelation i could see causing a ruckus. but not the fact that the deep soot-to-heather canvas of november is balm to me.

it wraps me, the sunless-ness of these days. it is the woolen blanket of the year lifted from the basket in the corner, draping ’round my shoulders, as i settle deep into my winter chair, my thinking chair.

these are the days when i could be alone for hours on end, but not really alone, as i am out chattering to my birds and squirrel friends. i am out protecting them from cold. tossing corn. pouring water into shallow bowls. smearing peanut butter onto tree bark so they can peck it off, stave off the shivers and the rumbly tummies that i fear for them.

these are the days when the stark poetry of gnarly branch and endless sky open up to me. when all around is naked, bared, stripped of its cloak, exposed.

it is in the few fat fruits–american cranberry, rosehips–left on the bough and thorny stem, and the up-reached arms of oak and serviceberry that i find the combination lock to my imagination–and my most satisfying comfort.

it is jagged silhouette against the charcoal sky that haunts me, rustles me, seeps slowly deeply in.

i look out into tangled labyrinth of branch on branch–interrupted only by unkempt knot of leaves assembled by some squirrel intent on keeping warm–and i understand what november reveals.

we have watched, for weeks now, the slow undressing of the world beyond the sill. there is no hiding in the eleventh month, the one before it gets to be too much, and we battle back the darkness with the kindling of the lights, and the stringing of the branches with all the glitter we can gather.

it is these thirty days, or at least a good long line of them, that beckon us to come inside, to draw in to where the embers burn.

by that, of course, we don’t mean merely shuffling ’cross the mat, settling down at table’s edge.

oh, no.

we mean: do. come. in. take off your shoes. get comfy. now mill about inside your soul. breathe deep. the summer’s done. and so too the autumn, ‘cept for maybe one last spell before the bitterest of cold.

think thoughts that take some time to come to. be not in a hurry, not at all. and don’t be afraid of where the thinking trails.

it’s november. the month when all the world strips down to utter truth. and we, too, might do well to follow suit.

the logs are crackling in the grate, the afternoon is long. the kettle whistles. pages turn. understanding just might be ahead.

make the most of these hours when the light goes dim. make the most of the month when all that matters is undressed, and we are left to study only that which cannot hide.

tinglingly, i find myself coming to deep awakening as the northern world begins its slumber. how about you? what is it about november that captures you, stirs your soul, your thoughts, your deepest hungers?