I love November
I always used to hate November: greyness, wetness, short days and dank, dark nights. It felt to me as if the world turned inward and the light left the sky and as the days darkened my energy dropped and so did my mood. When did my feelings change? I am not sure. My mother died in November and my father two years later in December. I think that these losses combined with my own growing sense of how fast time runs away with you have shifted me towards wanting to make the very most of each day. I can't afford to discount three or four months of the year. How many more years are there? I have no idea but I should make my days count.
And lo and behold! It is possible to change the patterns of a lifetime! It is possible to find things to love in November and to be energised and excited, just as much as in Spring. Over the last few years I have found lots of ways to feel good in November and for me that seems to require some particular things to shape my day:
Far and away the most important thing for me is to spend some time outside. Even in November the sun shines and our beautiful landscape burst into vivid life. This is halfway round my usual running circuit. Even when the days are not so brilliantly blue, there will be something outside to lift the spirits: the colour of beech leaves in the hedge, a robin hopping close to me as I plant tulips, the cows wandering across to look curiously over the fence.
Keeping the body moving
Walking with Ian, running by myself, a yoga class or a weights session. In winter a huge part of me wants to sit on the sofa under a blanket and eat biscuits. There is much to be said for all these things but keeping moving and going outside together transform my energy levels. This is a really hard one to do because actually getting myself moving gets harder and harder as November progresses: putting my running kit on when I get dressed is one strategy that usually works. Somehow getting changed again without having made it out of the door seems quite shameful so I am likely to get out there for a run even if it's only for twenty minutes. Promising myself something nice when I have run or done some weights is another. That might well be half an hour on the sofa with a book. Or it might be half an hour's knitting or crochet because that is my next strategy:
Years ago I read a wonderful book called Making Winter by Emma Mitchell. It is a thoughtful and fascinating guide to using craft and creativity to make something beautiful during the winter months. I love making things and after a working life of using the brain I have found real delight in returning to the pleasures of making things and using the hands. I generally have something on the go all year round but winter is the time I really dive into making things.
This November I am close to completing a cushion cover using a technique which is new to me called mosaic crochet. There are two designers who really do wonderful things with this technique: Moira Douglas and Tinna Hekl. This cushion is a Moira Douglas pattern but both designers make things which are a revelation in terms of what you can do with fibre and a hook. I love being able to see something beautiful emerging under my fingers. I love the focus which is necessary to do something quite complicated and the way it stills the whirring of the monkey brain and replaces it with a rhythmic peace.
And the last thing is
Company and communication
I like my own company but I also like contact. When we lived up the hill I associated the winter months with a falling off in the casual contacts which came with summer. No one ever called or walked past because we were the end of the lane. I learnt that I need to search company out and choir and language classes, WI, coffee with friends and time spent with Ian doing things together rather than each of us at our separate devices, all these things keep me full of life and energy.
So how do I feel about November now that I have learnt to love it rather than to endure it? I love the way the garden stops growing and gives me more time for dreaming. I love closing the curtains or the blinds and turning on the lamps. I love home made soups and home made bread. I love time for new books to read and new projects. I love it.