November is a great sweeping wind, a clearing of what must go, a dance with a howling reaper.
The crickets have disappeared. Their nightly serenades, which crackled like warm vinyl from spring through harvest season, faded with the first hard frost. In their wake, the wind shrieks through naked trees. A great horned owl bellows from his perch.
The garden folds into itself. The porch toads that lurked by the watering can on warm autumn evenings now burrow beneath the frost line. Field mice shimmy down chimneys, squeeze through eaves, craft their nests inside cozy walls.
Songbirds come and go. Hermit thrushes strip the hollies of their crimson fruit. White-throated sparrows shuffle through crumpled leaves, scratching up what’s buried underneath.
The wind sings of a quickening darkness. The squirrels, scrambling to cache pecans as they fall, retort with squawks and chatter. A skein of geese sails across a golden sunset.
At dusk, when the wind nips at the heels of those still roaming, a pair of coyotes yips and howls beyond the fringe. Back and forth they shriek, wailing like banshees, piercing the air with their shrill and haunting staccato.
“I’m here,” cries one to the other.
A single voice sounds like dozens.
A biting wind howls back.
When Pies Fly
For our neighbors in Albany, Georgia (pecan capital of the world), it’s raining you-know-what right now. But we have our share of toothsome treasures plummeting upon our leaf-littered neck of the woods, too. Especially in the southeastern part of the state. Whatever you call them — PEE-cans or pee-KAHNS — ’tis harvest season. Pick them as they drop or else the crows and squirrels will beat you to it. You’ll want to let them cure (essential if they’re not yet ripe) before shelling and freezing them. Store them in a mesh bag — and in a cool, dry place — for about two weeks. While you’re waiting? Dream of pie.
On that nut-studded note, have you ever cracked pecans? If so, then you can more deeply appreciate that the average pecan pie packs between 70 and 80 of those sweet and buttery little candies. No need to mention the calories.
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being.
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
Prepare to be Dazzled
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, a total lunar eclipse begins around 3 a.m. According to Smithsonian magazine, which named this celestial event one of 10 “dazzling” must-sees of 2022, the moon will appear reddish, as if “all the world’s sunrises and sunsets” are being cast upon it.
Speaking of dazzling events, here’s to hoping your Thanksgiving will be described as such. At the very least, don’t let the parsnips eclipse that homemade pie. PS