Braided gloom and beauty

Posted on November 19, 2010 by

I love the bluster and inconstancy of November in the Pacific Northwest. The other day, I watched a rising column of leaves in a Bellingham parking lot. Some scraped the pavement in circles, others twirled aloft, climbing, making a visible thing of an unseen gyre of air. Then the wind lost its grip: the column broke up, fell apart, and the leaves hurtled over the cars, bullet-fast and harmless, flying every which way.

I love the frosty days and the torrential downpours, the winds and how they lash the huge trees back and forth, love the mornings after these blows, streets strewn with broken branches, sodden would-be kindling. The air is saturated with water, always, and the days change rapidly, fog giving way to brightness, rainclouds screaming in to engulf a surprise window of blue skies. Right now it’s sleet with a threat of coming snow. It’s dramatic, moody, anything-can-happen weather.

November is purple clouds, rain-slicked maple leaves, screamingly red, a spongy mash of birch underfoot, turning from coin gold to rot brown–all the colors are stunning during these last violent throes of autumn.

November is stumbling on foreboding, Gothic structures in the midst of a walk through a Portland neighborhood:
Joseph Wood Hill Park

I am always at a low ebb, physically, emotionally and creatively, at this time of year. Things have a weight, a heaviness they lack in other months. It’s one reason why I sometimes embrace Nanowrimo (a drama unto itself!), because the mad over-the-top pace of it somehow forces me to tread, to keep myself afloat.

November is, for me, a month of beauty and slog, the two intertwined so tightly that the strands are inseparable.

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