January - at least in Illinois - requires a kit. Snow shovel, extra blankets, Carhartts. August is all about sun screen. Flip-flops and margaritas. April is umbrellas and rubber boots.
But November, as far as I know, is the only month that requires a mental tool kit. From the dawn of the first gray day (with your optimism already circling and gasping like a goldfish in the toilet bowl) to the final death rales just after Thanksgiving, this month is a struggle.
A lot of it has to do with sunshine. Which there tends to be less of when daylight savings time kicks in at the beginning of the month. There’s not much good to be said about living in the dark, but, well – shadows are good for hiding. Once my youngest leaped out at me from behind the oak as I came down the sidewalk after work. I splattered twelve ounces of pumpkin latte down my front and we laughed like loons for half an hour.
So, tool number one, and most important – laughter. Don’t lose it in the dark.
Faith, people, faith. Play “Here Comes the Sun” on your iPod and try to believe it. Do not for any reason play “Bookends”. Simon and Garfunkel injected a downer into their harmony that seeps beneath your skin and lays there like a bruise for days. I’m sure there’s a warning label somewhere on the album cover.
Search out good winter fruits. Pomegranates are phenomenal! Which, okay, I know sounds absolutely overboard, but have you ever had one? Juicy and crunchy all at once, and what a gorgeous color, never mind the red stain beneath your fingernails. In salads, in desserts, or just out-of-hand, these are sweet and wonderful, and the best thing about them is that they don’t become available, at least around here, until several weeks into the fall. Welcome November!
Oh wait, did I say that?
Early evenings are made for reading. Go ahead and be greedy about it – it’s not like you can do yard work! This time of year is awesome for disappearing into a good Victorian mystery – the fog, gas lamps, horse drawn hearses, all so fitting. I can almost feel Jack the Ripper lurking in the shadows, and while there’s nothing uplifting about that, it makes for a great diversion.
So – laughter, faith, winter fruit and a good book. I think we can make it now. Let me leave you with these lyrics from Kimya Dawson, which I try to keep at the front of my mind on the really gray days.
When I go for a drive I like to pull off to the side
Of the road, turn out the lights, get out and look up at the sky
And I do this to remind me that I'm really, really tiny
In the grand scheme of things and sometimes this terrifies me
But it's only really scary cause it makes me feel serene
In a way I never thought I'd be because I've never been
So grounded, and so humbled, and so one with everything
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything
Oh, do look this up! There is much more to it, and the tune is as fun as the lyrics.
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