Harvest is over for most of the agrarian folks in this part of the world, though here in Wayne County some apples remain to be gathered in. The color still showing in the landscape is muted, and a good rain or wind will soon turn the hills pensive gray. Some of my neighbors are talking about retreating to sunnier parts of the country, and a few have already left. Nature empties out and goes to rest and invites that from me, too. For as long as I can remember, November has been my favorite month, sandwiched between leaf season and the onset of winter. A fullness in my soul contradicts what nature is doing around me, and I become aware of what Parker Palmer described as “the abundance to be found in certain kinds of scarcity.” It’s a time for giving thanks, as Barbara Crooker does in her poem “Praise Song.”
Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there’s left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.