Up the Creek: November is good for the soul
By Ken M. Blomberg
November means many things to many people.
For those of us that live north of the tension zone, it represents a transition from warm weather to cold – from daylight savings to standard time – from rainbow colors to drab. However, to the hunter, November – despite the changes – remains food for the soul.
This year, as in years past, I had trouble letting go of October. The color change alone was bittersweet and the time change occurred way too soon for my internal clock. My beloved woodcock, for the most part, have abandoned the alder bottoms and popple uplands for warmer climates.
Hunters in general love yellow leaves and brown grass. If seasons of the year were honored with flags, the colors yellow and brown would be on autumn’s banner. Hunters, given the chance, would fly those colors year round – if only in their dreams – despite the heat, snow, greens and grays of other seasons. Perhaps that explains the year-round popularity of camouflage clothing on Main Street.
This hunter dislikes mowing the green grass of summer. During that time of year, I pray for dry spells, hoping the lawn slows down and turns brown. If only summer hours passed by as fast as grass grows, time between Novembers would seem much shorter.
November ultimately puts grass to sleep, while its winds strip trees of any remaining leaves. The thought of raking leaves when fall winds blow, is also disconcerting to me. Living in the country has allowed me to neglect this annual chore over the years. The lack of neighbors downwind allows nature to do the work. Leaves that remain scattered around the yard disappear under the snow and by spring thaw, become food for next year’s lawn.
November is forgiving. Other chores, much to the dismay of the boss, remain on the shelf. Precious down time, preserved for the hunting season, becomes a priority. Time, unlike “to do” lists, slips away and cannot be posted on the refrigerator for future reference.
The cold winds of November blew in this week, knocking at our door with a hint of winter forecasts. Chilling temperatures, a chance of snow and shorter days made the transition a bit of a shock. Feeding the woodstoves is now a daily chore.
Suddenly, thanks to the end of daylight saving time, we have reverted to standard time and the length of our days has been artificially shortened. Years ago, an energy policy act allowed Congress to experiment with the impact of changing the clocks on different dates based on the country’s energy needs. Light bulbs on, light bulbs off. Earlier to bed, earlier to rise. We humans chase the sun as it moves closer to the southern horizon.
I envy wildlife. Legislated day length means nothing to them. Their clocks are ruled by the sun and trigger migration, mating habits, hibernation and feeding patterns.
This past week our deer stands were inspected and improvements made for the upcoming deer gun hunt. I hunted woodcock and grouse near a friend’s cabin for the last time this year – as the season closed Monday past. Bare trees and snow set the stage for cold winter days on the horizon. Gathering together with friends holding common outdoor passions make for memorable times.
November is good for the soul.