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In November stillness our stonewalls wait, attentive, and gaunt revenant trunks of maple and oak settle down for winter’s stasis, which annually mimics and presages death for each of us and for the planet.
An 1815 volcanic eruption in Indonesia did it—though at the time our preachers thought the source more local and divine wrath explicit.
Winter starts in November, whatever the calendar says, with gray of granite, with russet and brown of used leaves.
In this light, I think it is so important to maintain a perspective that honors the laws of physics and the idea that what goes up must come down.
Whatever easy (like pushing a button and starting an orange robot that makes easy work of snow removal) must be paid for somewhere else in the universe, probably by some innocent butterfly whose only crime was flapping its wings.
It also puts me in touch with an earlier, more thoughtful, less mechanized way of doing things.
We live in such a privileged, materialistic society that makes it so easy to step on a pedal and end up miles from where we were half an hour ago.
But November, although it begins winter, is only winter’s approach, with little snow and with cold that announces itself only to increase.
The calendar’s winter begins at the solstice, Advent’s event: the birth of the child who rises from winter to die and rise again in spring.
So I return to my shoveling, thinking these deep thoughts, fancying myself some kind of modern-day Thoreau, “wishing to speak a word for Nature.” But I burst my own bubble when I catch myself grumbling about how hard it is to live in a place that experiences extreme winters.
(I’m sure that my friends in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Manitoba will chuckle at this characterization of Massachusetts.) There’s always a five-to-ten-foot strip where the driveway meets the road, where big plow trucks throw salty slush, adding the snow from the road to the snow already on your driveway, gluing everything together into a giant block of concrete, and turning your evening into a major excavation project.