In Little Women, Meg March complains about November, declaring it “the most disagreeable month in the whole year.”
As a November baby, this passage stuck with me. I first read it as a child living in sunny suburban Arizona, so could not understand why Meg hated November for the simple reason that I had never experienced November. Sure, there were inflatable turkeys, Thanksgiving holidays, and pumpkin spice snacks, but the season itself resembled a slightly less-grueling summer.
In a journal entry from November of 2020, I described the weather as “moronically hot,” testifying to the almost total lack of anything resembling autumn. I continued to add that the absence of seasonal change “wears on a person dreadfully,” so it is with great thankfulness that I am writing now beneath a window that overlooks flaming red oak trees and whirlwinds of crispy leaves. I believe we are created with an innate longing for seasons, for the slow and steady march of the months, the liturgy of sowing, growing, reaping, and feasting. Until now, I had little connection to this natural pattern; living in eastern Iowa, where there are not only four but five seasons (nobody is quite sure what the fifth season is, but it’s the city slogan), I am enjoying these earthy rhythms. They make me feel more alive, more authentically human. I know that winter will be dreadful at times, but there is a certain joy to changing habits and wardrobe to fit with the seasons, for this way of living resists stagnation.
Currently, I am witnessing fall in all its glory. It arrived in October with bursts of burning color, blooming in a flurry of life intermixed with death. Now that I am also experiencing my first true November, I can safely say that I disagree with Meg. Jo and I were blessed to be born in November! In this beautiful month, the best aspects of autumn and winter intermingle. One can listen to Christmas music as well as share spooky stories, enjoy peppermint or pumpkin spice, wear cozy sweaters and soak up some remaining sunshine. Best of all, I am looking from my desk upon flurries of both leaves and snow! November also brings the promise of upcoming visits, family gatherings, and holiday revelry without the urgency of last-minute shopping and packing. For those of us in the arts, it rests comfortably between fall and Christmas concerts, providing a time to practice or to rest without stress.
So, despite low expectations set by Meg March, it seems that—to those of us who like in-between times and happy mediums—November is perhaps the most agreeable month of the year.