November’s a funny month, isn’t it? It creeps in after the excitement of the half-term school holiday, Hallowe’en (very exciting in our house this year as small daughter was allowed to go trick-or-treating with big daughter and her friends for the first time. I’m not sure whether small daughter singing “I’ve been eaten by a boa constrictor” is a trick or a treat but she came back with plenty of sweeties!), and the clock change. All of a sudden, it’s dark by 5.30pm and Christmas is about eight weeks away.
According the poem about the months that I remember learning at school, “Dull November brings the blast, then the leaves go whirling past”. There are certainly plenty of leaves in our garden. The dog is less impressed with the whirling leaves than with the brush which makes it practically impossible to get anything done while he’s dancing around. The garden is starting to look bedraggled and tired, apart from bursts of colour where leaves are turning bright red or orange. It feels like the garden is shutting down, ready for the long months of winter when nothing much will grow except for a few brave snowdrops in January.
My resolution this year was to slow down, and I realised this morning – shortly after counting the weeks until Christmas and discovering that it was much sooner than I thought – that I’ve not been doing that at all. November has just become a time to prepare for Christmas. I’ve been buying and wrapping presents, determined not to leave it all until the last minute. I’ve been making lists of jobs that I want to do, such as making the wreath for the front door and stocking up on treats for cosy nights in by the fire watching re-runs of James Bond or Toy Story films. I’ve completely forgotten that November is a lovely time in its own right to enjoy crunching through the leaves, soaking up the warmth of the late autumn sunshine and watching the squirrels bouncing around the garden in search of food.
Having the dog certainly helps with my resolution of slowing down; you notice more when you’re walking, you stop to talk to people, you pick up the scents and smells that are completely unnoticed when you’re in a car. Being outside renews the spirit and calms a troubled mind, which is why gardening is such a valuable activity for people with depression and other mental illnesses. It’s also impossible to be grumpy for long when you’re out walking, as my husband has found after a long day at work when he gets home late and takes the dog for a last walk around the block. And of course, it’s also a fantastic time to make the mental lists of all those jobs in preparation for Christmas that you need to do when you get home! So perhaps I am sticking to my resolution - as long as I slow down long enough to think about it!