My little bungalow faces across some lower roof-tops and marshes to the wide open seas of the Thames and Medway Estuaries and the North Sea beyond.
Today under sometimes dark and threatening skies the wind hinted at possible snow showers, straight off the cold North Sea. I sat there indoors and watched distant ships making their way into the Thames, bright against the Essex shoreline and mused about the time of year.
For me, November is a halfway month. Halfway between the warmth and sunshine hours of summer that linger into October's autumn and the cold and dark of winter that reaches its pinnacle in February. As though to disguise that fact it often cloaks itself in fogs and mists as though to hide the door that leads into winter until, one day you wake up and find that you are already there.
Behind me the wintery sun sits low in the sky at the top of the garden, barely touching into the garden at all. This same sun all summer long would sit high in the sky and warm all the nooks and crannies it could find, now it simply skims the fence tops, a fleeting glimpse on a short winter's day. These are too cold to go out days, reflection days, when perhaps with a warming drink you think back to hot summer days and nights.
For me, I never cease to be thrilled at going to bed at 10.00 on a summer's night and having the last pink rays of daylight still part lighting the bedroom and knowing that in just six hour time it will be daylight again.
While I sit there and muse the sky gets darker and the cold creeps in, darkness begins at 3.30, and as always I inevitably end up recalling events from the Wind in the Willows - Ratty and Mole were travelling home across country on a cold winter's late afternoon:
"Then a gust of bitter wind took them in the back of the neck, a small sting of frozen sleet on the skin woke them as from a dream, and they knew their toes to be cold and their legs tired, and their own home distant a weary way.
Once beyond the village, where the cottages ceased abruptly, on either side of the road they could smell through the darkness the friendly fields again; and they braced themselves for the last long stretch, the home stretch, the stretch that we know is bound to end, some time, in the rattle of the door-latch, the sudden firelight, and the sight of familiar things greeting us as long-absent travellers from far oversea."
I'm sure that we've all experienced that at some time.
and November goes,
With the last red berries
and the first white snow.
With night coming early,
and dawn coming late,
and ice in the bucket
and frost by the gate.
The fires burn
and the kettles sing,
and earth sinks to rest
until next spring............(Clyde Watson)