The November woods – and December to some extent – are as close to monochromatic you’ll ever find in the forest; it pretty much a vast compilation of shades of gray; barring the subtle tones of green from the lichen, which truly lean more towards gray than green anyway. The only places that deviate are where there are oaks as they still carry some brown leaves still, or the pine forest that is, of course, evergreen. And as dreary, dismal, dark, and depressing as that may sound, it is fabulous. It is a walk in solitude and beauty that should be scored to “Sound of Silence” (Simon and Garfunkel or Disturbed version – both are awesome).
The activity in woods in the back of the yard has increased with the advent of deep Fall, at least as evidenced by the trail cams. In the last month I have captured nightly shots of raccoons and opossums and fox about every other night. Coyotes continue to be intermittent but the deer are showing up more and more often, including a couple of bucks. This is a natural and normal adaptation to the Fall in the woods as the various species prepare for the impending winter and is always a privilege to behold.
Speaking of my back woods, the frog pond is still completely without water, despite all the rain we’ve had. We’ve improved from D3 Extreme Drought to D2 Severe Drought, but are still something like 8” below where we should be. I am hopeful it comes in the next two months, but not all at once! Unfortunately, that may be a tall order as historically, the next four months are the ones with the lowest average rainfall. For us, the spring brings most of our rain… and we often flood so the frog pond will fill, and then disappear under the water level!! Such is life; much like a broken clock which tells the correct time twice a day, the pond will have the proper water level twice, as it fills and then as it drains again!
We are entering a truly wonderful time of year as the temperatures drop and the holidays arrive. It will surely be a radically different Thanksgiving and Christmas for many of us given the pandemic. But I will still embrace the spirit of the holidays. Halloween excites me to an insane level, but Christmas instills a deep peace and joy within me. The waters in my soul always calm and flatten during the season (well, once I have the shipping done anyway) like no other time of the year.
There is no doubt this year Christmas will be unlike any other in memory; it will be difficult and stressful as we attempt to find balance between family, health, and safety. Lockdowns will be imposed upon many of us and all will likely experience separation from at least some loved ones. But as with anything else, it is about seeking balance and about making the best of a bad situation. The holidays are typically peak times for depression and I fear this year may set records for that. It is critical to embrace what good you can find and run with it. Wallowing in what is wrong never does anyone any good and if you stay in it long enough, you become mired in it. Thank goodness for electronics; can you imagine lockdowns without texts, email, and video chat? Think about a lockdown 40 years ago when all we had was a hardwired house phone and four or five channels on TV – now that would be a horrific isolation!
I have noticed, while out and about, that Christmas lights are popping up a over. Now I know that some folks like to strike while the iron is hot: get the lights up while the weather is nice and warm and sunny, and I do see that here and there each year. But I sense more than that this year – I sense that people are truly looking forward to the peace and love of Christmas due to the severity of this year, but beyond that, they are anxious to hurry to the end of this year and try again next! My lights will go up the day (or so) after Thanksgiving and will stay lit long after Christmas – usually to Super Bowl weekend. I find the bright lights joyous in the deep and dark of winter, but I’m sure my neighbors think I am crazy! We all seek ways to bring light into the darkness. I hope you have your own special way to do so dear reader. Stay well!!