November’s Call: on seasons, ritual and hibernation

It is with a sigh, of relief, almost, or more accurately surrender, which I see this November sky.  It is familiar: gray and haunting, threatening snow from the formless clouds, curlicues of wind blowing crunchy leaves skyward.  This makes more sense.  Yesterday’s rain storm brought down what was left of October’s regal color: hues of burnt sienna traded for shadows of heather gray. This is the weather that, though I don’t long for, I do sink into because it is just so November.  Unlike the days we’ve had recently, full of sunshiney surprises.  But the truth is that I need these authentic November days to remind me of where we are.  This sky acts as a compass, pointing me away from October’s harvest, towards November’s feast.

We’ve turned our clocks back, tucked into the darkness as it creeps closer to our living space.  In college, once that change took place we would even eat our dinner meal earlier, longing for the shelter of the warm dorm against the blistering reality of winter in upstate New York, swapping clothes for PJs, microwaving  hot chocolate to nestle in for studying.  There is something about the gray, the dark, the barrenness of this landscape, that feels like a natural reprieve: a calling towards hibernation.  I, for one, am thankful for the call to stillness, especially to ready myself for the jubilation of the holidays.

There is rhythm to the seasons, ritual that has been integrated in the lives of generations past, as we mimic this change.  It is one thing that I yearn to teach my little ones: the sacredness of each season.  The new growth and promise of Spring means little without the desolate underbelly of a dark Winter.  The harvest celebrated throughout Fall is not possible without the sweat-drenched long days of Summer.  Though our lives are more about this metaphoric rhythm than the literal dependence of previous generations, I feel it is still important to stay connected to these rituals.

This sense of rhythm, of ritual, of time moving forward but with repitition and familiarity, is something that I want to incorporate in our family life.  I want my Little Ones to be influenced, as I am, by the movement of the sun, the moon, the earth around its axis.  I want them to know this air to feel different in their lungs, recognize it’s perfume in their noses.  Just like I crave this hibernation and stillness in these November moments, I want to give this gift of season to my Little Ones.  I want them to feel freedom in the unfettered glory of sitting before a fireplace and peace in those places where only piles of books in pajamas will suffice.  I want them to know the way a mug of hot tea feels on these cool days, just like a cold lemonade quenches July’s blistering heat.  I want them to lean into the full days in the kitchen baking up pumpkins and apples, knowing that it will one day, not too long from now, be time again to return to the simple meals of grilling outside.

Of course, the school calendar and curriculum dictates some of this seasonality, and the commerical consumerism we see every where supposedly taps into some sort of change.  And it is easy to see one day bleed into the next, and forget to even notice the changes until all of a sudden it’s dark at 4:30pm and we have a long list of Christmas goodies to shop for.  I guess that is why I so strongly want to root myself in what I feel is more natural: to choose our own rhythm and ritual, to emphasize what we already hold sacred instead of glumly swallowing the mock values around us.  It takes intent: to choose how we see this season, how we live into this Fall, this Winter.

I will put on my pajamas after dinner tonight — a dinner, set with candles,  a bit earlier than our summer meals.


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