Monday, November 29, 2010

There's a certain slant of light

We visited these woods on Halloween day, I think, or maybe the day after. Just about one month ago. (This is some indication of just how out of step with the moment I've been lately.)

Even so, I find the French woods to be magical and there is always a fairy rock or fairy cave or ancient bridge to spur the kids' imaginations with. I can't help but wonder, when I'm in the midst of them, breathing in the history that wafts right out of the spongy soil,  if Marie Antoinette or Napoleon or some obscure, yet very rich Duke and Dutchess once galloped along the very same ancient path that we walk.

I guess it's not only kids imaginations that are getting spurred on our outings.

Since that day in the woods, one month ago, November sidled in and is almost ready to leave again.  In its wake, comes winter, real winter. Burgundy style. Not exactly Vermont winter, but there has been snow flying and the puffy gray duvet in the sky has been turned down, enticing all of us to get in bed and stay there.

The darkness is pervasive. It lifts at 8 a.m., ever so slightly, only to be replaced by a thick, foggy gray, then starts to descend again at 4 p.m. making the day feel like one quick little catnap. Or a fleeting, yet passionate affair. Never enough time to say all you have to say and do all you want to do.

Ian has been bringing wood home with him every night and we've been fending off the November blues with warm, orange fires in the kitchen.

The fires have a Little House on the Prairie effect on all of us. Even I have been getting down on the floor to play pick up sticks with Isla. I draw the line with puzzles though. I suck at puzzles. I told Isla I would rather have all my teeth pulled without anesthesia than do a puzzle.

She didn't really understand, but she didn't ask me again. She knows puzzles are daddy's thing.

And Esther does her homework in front of the fire and even got out her violin tonight after months and months of ignoring it where it lay, forgotten, under the table in the corner.

So November can, it seems, bring good things.

This dark and cruel month has, after all, ushered Isla, my brother, my niece, and several of my favorite people into the world. I suppose I should apply the don't- kill- the -messenger rule to this unfortunate eleventh month. My least favorite month.

But I cannot say I am not looking forward, with antsy pantsy anxiousness, to December. Something about December, despite it's shortest days of the year, brings me hope. Perhaps it's the finality.

November can still be a bit wishy washy. Like those leaves that hang on to the trees, crispy lone rangers, long after all their friends have floated to the ground. And those late-migrating geese and swans that keep flying over our heads, so close we can hear the rhythmic squeak of their wings as they pass.

December means business. There is no chance of turning back now. No chance at all. Only forward.

Emily Dickinson's poem, from which I lifted my title, can be found here. 

Other repetitive and annoying musings on motherhood can be found here.


Anonymous said...


Wow, Betsy! What beautiful pictures! I know that you're homesick, but it's truly spectacular there. The moss on the rocks reminds me of gathering little bits of earth and plants with my Grandmother to make terrariums in New Hampshire.

I see so much of you in Esther, and Isla sure is a little spitfire! I hope that you have a wonderful December.

As a side note, what did you do for Thanksgiving in France? It occurred to me that it's not a holiday there.

Anonymous said...

Puzzles! I just read Joyce's blog about 'playing' at Babycentre - I love puzzles compared to the just playing - polly pockets - all I can do is dress and undress, sorry I'm not interested in the panic of not being the one with the prince (speaking of which, yeah to the death or disney princesses!)

Emma said...

I feel chilly just reading this. It looks beautiful, though I'm not sure that i could cope with days that short. The open fire sounds cosy, I can just imagine Esther as Laura Ingalls and Isla as Carrie.

Kristina O'Leary said...

Really, puzzles and November? Those are two things that I really like! November can still have a few really nice days, and they feel like such an unexpected treat. For me, it's February that is the most cruel month.

Enjoy your December!

Betsy said...

Kim: We had an Ex-pat thanksgiving dinner. It was great. French turkey's are a bit skinny, though.
Kristina: February has always been my least favorite month, yet another month in which many of my best friends were born, but this year November took the prize.

Seamingly Sarah said...

Oh snow, please come visit me here in upstate new york! I can't wait for the winter solstice to arrive. The thought of the shortest day of the year being done and over gives only hope to me. It only gets better after that day. Whereas the summer solistice depresses me. It only gets worse after that day.