Sunday, November 25, 2007

BARE TWIGS IN WINTER...


"Bare twigs in winter have an actuality of their own..."
Jesse Stuart

Saturday morning I drove to Prairie du Chien, nestled on the Mississippi just north of where the Wisconsin River enters it. I had the time, so drove up to Wyalusing State Park, which overlooks the confluence. If you look closely, you'll see the priest Marquette and his guide, Joliet, poling their raft into the Mississippi from the Wisconsin, and so making rather a long discovery.

I can remember a time when my oldest son Colin, aged perhaps eleven or twelve, discovered November as a time in itself. We don't normally admit this to strangers, but Wisconsinites spend September and October mentally preparing for the hell which is Winter. Surely this'll be the Bad One! We enter November having done our duty of preparing. The garden hoses drained of water and coiled in a corner of the garage. Gas additive added to motorcycle and lawn mowers. We clean the eaves; we do whatever we have to do to the windows. We prepare for the annual influx of field mice. We are so busy nestmaking for the Winter that we sometimes forget to take a long look at the wonderful, strange changes that happen when the planet begins its northward tilt.

The first thing is the change in the light. This startling new angle of the sun's rays plays a piquant game in my mind. There is a sharpening in the air, a crystalline intensity that always amazes and warns. We're losing daylight. It is the end of all things. Squirrels begin to hide hickory nuts everywhere, nervous of finding them again.

Walking through the woods in November with Colin, at eleven a squirrel in his own right. Everything is open; we can see things now that we haven't seen since the last snow. The dense, cloying foliage of Summer has passed. Through a long expanse of bare tree limbs, an open meadow invites wild turkey to range. "Wow, Dad! I think I love November best of all!" I know what he means. Early November is this free, empty space of time after the business of the Fall and before the business of Winter. And even now, as I walk a dog through the fields, there is an idleness, a peaceful ache as I drink in the simplicity of it all: Creation going to sleep.

7 comments:

Lutheran Lucciola said...

I forget about all the preparations for winter. Hoses and additives, etc. Taking screens down, putting storm windows up!

Reminds me of that song, "Bare Trees"....

Another Kerner said...

Autumn in Wisconsin is crisp and the most beautiful of
seasons.....especially walking the woods with a good dog or two.

All my dogs love November.

November........and the "days dwindle down" towards winter....

Thank you for capturing November for those who have not lived or savored it with us: and thank you for reminding those of us who may have forgotten how glorious it can be....... just before we finally retreat into the cold.

Fishism said...

Ditto. Great time for shootin' stuff, and eatin' it, too.

Bruce Gee said...

Fishishm, I've found the squirrels are hard to find by November. You have to catch them in the frenzy of harvest, or they'll just play you the fool for an afternoon, spying from their trees, text-messaging each other about the idiot with a gun.

Now for rabbits and pheasant, you need a good dog.

ED said...

Man, good writing, Bruce!

CG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CG said...

Yah! I told J that I would love to take a road trip...like, to Iowa.