An emblem of November. Photo by Dana Wilde

Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day. This is the time of year when distinctions between worlds blur.

Nov. 2: More temperatures in the 60s. This is not an extension of October; it’s an apparition of August. Song sparrows celebrate it in the bushes, unaware of what it probably means about the future life of their race. Juncos with flashing white tails sweep into the woods with choreographic precision. Bridge spiders busy on the park storage garage. A young one has spun a perfect spiral web about 4 inches across, sits in the sun-glistening center and waits.

Nov. 3: Sunny and still too warm for November. Dave Morrison sends an autumn poem:

Fall is my
brother mapping out a
play on his cold palm,
overcast,
empty lot,
tied game.

Time overlapses. Fifty-two years ago, four-on-four football in an unmown autumn field in southern Maine: I hike the ball, lead the play out left and throw my body full length toward the ground, cutting the legs of Junior Jay Ellis clean out from under him, he goes ass over teakettle. Mark Capano runs past with football under his arm laughing and shouting, “WHAT A BLOCK!” Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago.

Nov. 4: Warmer still. Bridge spiders. Wolf, crab and jumping spiders on a park bench. A clouded sulphur butterfly flits across late dandelions gone to seed. Only the bare trees and low midafternoon sunlight indicate it’s November. In decades past this is a landscape submitting to the possibility of a blizzard.

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Nov. 6: Overcast. Rainshowers. 70s. Creeping along the storage garage, a boxelder bug, black with bright orange lines. Halloween in November.

Nov. 7: Sunny. Northwest gal that should be as cold as blocks of ice driving whitecaps across the lake. But it’s 65 degrees. A murder of crows plays in the wind above the pines. Tamarack tops golden in the westering sun. A woman with bare tank top shoulders sits reading in the middle of the soccer field. Brian the cat sleeps on the couch. He has no idea tomorrow is Election Day.

Nov. 8: Election Day. Cool, biting north wind tears whitecaps straight down the length of the blue-black lake.

Nov. 9: Lake flat calm. A large doe and I face off near the pines by the walking track. She is tense and beautiful, and bounds off into the trees. Wake up, Brian, it’s not over yet.

Nov. 10: A blue jay lights up the bare willow, then the bare birch, then the bare maple.

Nov. 11: Cloudy, 63 degrees. Supernaturally still gray air, flat calm lake. From the baseball field, a resounding crack of bat striking ball. Memories of excited Little League practices of 60 years ago crack back, blurring time. Holding the bat is a heavyset guy, he walks across the diamond, retrieves the ball near the dugout. Tosses it up, swings, crack, a line drive across second base. Slowly walks to deep left field, retrieves the ball, tosses it up, crack, a blooper back toward the dugout. Repeats. He knows what he’s doing. Every crack results in a fly or a rope, not a single squibbing grounder. Walks back across the infield. Hits it again. Walks back toward the dugout. Again, to center field. Again, toward home. It is one of the loneliest things I have ever seen.

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Nov. 12: 3 a.m., 63 degrees. 10 p.m., 52 degrees. In between, Portland record high 73, Bangor record high 68. The expression should be “record higher.” The problems with climate changing temperatures will come not so much from daytime highs, although they could become oppressive here decades hence, but from nighttime lows. Eventually, it will hardly cool at all at night.

Nov. 13: Raining, 43 degrees. An itch inside my right leg turns out to be the third deer tick since May. Seems late in the year, but come to find out, October through December is high deer tick season. Ouch coming out.

Nov. 16: An inch of wet, gray snow. The backwoods seem dreamlike on account of that frosting.

Nov. 17: Sunny, 32 degrees, crusty snow. Turkeys touch the stubble fields with rosy wattles. Ice-crusted treetops. Glittering frieze. Gulls squatting on a field, shoulders hunched, facing forward into wind.

Nov. 18: Sunny, 31 degrees. Bootprints on the deck transmogrified to ice plates. Summer transmogrified to winter.

Nov. 21: Brumal cold. What appeared to be a goldeneye duck, alone on a pond in Jackson. This week’s snow crust has disappeared, except at our house. And in places near Buffalo, New York, where 6 feet has fallen. Something too much of this. Already.

Nov. 24: My brother Al was born exactly 62 years ago today. Like yesterday. Happy Thanksgiving.

Dana Wilde lives in Troy. You can contact him at [email protected] His book “Winter: Notes and Numina from the Maine Woods” is available from North Country Press. Backyard Naturalist appears the second and fourth Thursdays each month, but is printed in today’s Friday edition because we do not publish on Thanksgiving Day.


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