Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November Notes

"November comes
      And November goes,
      With the last red berries
      And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
      And dawn coming late,
      And ice in the bucket
      And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
      And the kettles sing,
      And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."
-- Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893–1986)

More than any other month, November reminds me of old age. It's a time when the colorful flush of autumn gives way to a brittle brownness, when chilly rains scrub the trees, revealing stark, yet beautiful branches. Warm, sunny days are a rarity, but the world awaits: everywhere I look, I see a thousand shades of brown. If the ground is still warm enough, I can plant daffodil bulbs. It's time to hang bird feeders, to look up recipes for suet. The merriment of December awaits, but for now, I wrap up in tartan blankets, sip hot orange-honey tea, and eat pumpkin bread, my fingers leaving crumbs on a well-loved book: The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.

 If you don't have a copy of Edith Holden's classic journal (and I bet you have all of her books), stop what you're doing and find one. 

"November . . . the ninth month of the old Roman year, which began with March. The 11th of November was held to mark the beginning of winter. The Anglo-Saxon name for November was "Blot-monath," or "Blood Month." The latter name was probably alluding to the custom of slaughtering cattle about Martinmas for winter consumption."
-- from A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady

The book is filled with illustrations, nature notes, poems, and seasonal observations.

"If there's ice in November that will bear a duck,
There'll be nothing after, but sludge and muck."

Saint's Days
November 1 -- All Saint's Day
November 2 -- All Souls' Day
November 11 -- St. Martin's
November 22 -- St. Cecelia's
November 25 -- St. Catherine's
November 30 -- St. Andrew's

In Nature Notes of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, each month has journaling pages. Writing is a journey, of course, but when we focus on nature, we step outside of our lives and become adventurers.


"It is November. The noons are more
laconic and the sundowns sterner.
November always seemed to me
the Norway of the year."
-- Emily Dickinson, "The Winter Garden"

November is the month that eases us into winter. I remember how, last January, I stayed indoors, warm and cozy, but frustrated. I taught myself how to take photos of flat lays, but I longed to be outside, my boots crunching in leaves. Yet I didn't dress for the cold. That seems utterly obtuse, but aside from a heavy, poofy ski jacket, I lacked outdoor gear (okay, like a squirrel gathering acorns, I collected cakes and pies. Sadly, I'd outgrown my clothes). Leggings and skimpy shoes just won't protect you in a Tennessee winter. And, while the season appears to be interminable, March offers a reprieve. This winter, I promised myself to buy armour: thick sweaters, knitted hats, woolly scarves, and gloves. The dogs have sweaters, too.

Someone recently told me that a sunny day is a gift, one that's meant to be explored and enjoyed. As a creature of warmth, I agree, but I also believe that life is the gift. 


  1. Autumn is so beautiful! Especially at Rattlebridge Farm. Have a good week!

  2. Beautiful photos! Life and a sunny day is a gift. Seems it was just summertime!

  3. What a lovely post! I owned the Country Diary once. I must look for it again. Thank you for reminding me about it.

  4. Ponder. I love that word. It makes me slow down. It makes me wonder and wander. So does every beautiful post such as this one. I absolutely loved it. I will lather myself and ponder over it again and again. Thank you.

  5. Lovely photos and I definitely need that book.

  6. Wow, so thoughtful and inspiring. And funny - "I collected cakes and pies". I used to love November 1 as All Saints' Day - growing up Catholic, we had the day off from school and, after mass (it was a holy day of obligation but not sure now), could eat our candy all day long while our public school friends had to attend classes.
    I have much work still to tend to in the garden......I think the weather is going to cooperate, but come Sunday, the hours to accomplish it get even shorter! I'm excited for the coming two's what comes after the holidays that I must get an attitude adjustment for.
    Tip: Cuddl Duds....Sams Club!

  7. I love this post! Edith Holden is one of my favorites. I wish I had all of her books.

    Winter has always been one of my favorite seasons as well. Living on a lake helps with that I think....the gorgeous skies reflected on the water, the steam rising on cold days & forming frost in the trees along the banks. I try to be out in the woods every single day.

    And even cold, wet days can be beautiful. All the scents in the woods are stronger on dreary wet days.

  8. Great post. I love Autumn and try to savor it all. It has been COOL for the past 2 days but warming back to the mid 70's again tomorrow and Friday!

  9. inspiring filled with such beauty and tidbits of nature! I have and love Edith Holden's Country Diary and Nature Notes. I have much gardening work to do this make me want to play in the leaves and forage for nuts like a squirrel. ♥

  10. You're so is the gift! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on November. I don't have any Edith Holden's books, but I need to look for one. Thank you for reminding me, my friend!

  11. Absolutely love this, can't wait to be living in a garden again, it's all about these magic moments...

    gorgeous vignettes.

  12. This has to be one of my all time favorite blog posts. I am a loving of late fall, and November has become my favorite month. It is the culmination of my beloved autumn, with anticipation of the excitement of Christmas and the restfulness of winter. I am in Eastern KY, we probably have similar weather. I am hoping to do some planting this week. Your photos are perfect for November, and I am on my way to find that journal!
    Amber at

  13. Oh how I have missed your words!! Life has been crazy and I've neglected my blog reading. But hoping to spend some quality time this weekend catching up with your posting.
    This one tho??? About journaling? has touched my heart for I am an avid journaler. One of my fave gifts to give to friends is a homemade journal that I've concocted myself filled with quotes,thoughts,pics of sentimentality and ideas for expression of the word.
    You do that with such finesse...takes me away to a special place and allows my soul to be soothed. and your photography is awesome!

  14. one more thing.....I have been journaling since 1998...and no one knows about all of my journals that are stored in a secret place, except my best girlfriend, and she has instructions to go to that secret place and burn them upon my demise!! My plan is to have all of them with me as I grow old and re read each page from the nursing home!!!

  15. Oh I love this post! I have Edith Holdsn's Country life of an Edwardian Lady, its always on my mantel here...I have bought 4 along the years for presents for daughter in laws, Father in law and a dear friend...I love the book.