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Averyt: Rewriting November

It's November, that quiet time of year. The leaves are gone, color drained from the hillsides. In my yard, the maples' yellow leaves held on the longest, but now all that's left is the brown of the oaks. The willow is bent, as if weeping summer's loss.

I've always dreaded the encroaching darkness of November - the time of year which for me is most SAD. It triggers my seasonal affective disorder and sends me in search of my happy light, the 10,000 lux light that offers me synthetic sun on a cloudy day. Thank goodness for the light, because I often find it hard to be happy in November.

In Vermont, this is the cloudiest month of the year. Burlington lags just behind Seattle with the least amount of annual sunlight. In November and December, as the cold settles in and darkness gobbles up more and more of the daylight, my spirits dip, the world grows gray and I feel blue.

But this year I’m trying to rewrite my autumn narrative. My granddaughters think the season of fallen leaves to pile high and dive into is a wonderful time of year. Likewise, Vermont hunters wait all year for the thrill of the chase in November and even I feel the seasonal excitement when signs begin to sprout up along roadsides announcing ski swaps, holiday bazaars and potpie dinners.

If the leaves are gone, so too are the busloads of tourists and crowded roads. We have Vermont mostly to ourselves during the seasonal segue from noisy autumn to the peaceful white of winter. It's a time of transition when we clean up the garden, stow the lawn furniture and get ready for long months of hibernation. It's the last chance to split and stack wood, switch over to snow tires and put up weather stripping against the encroaching chill.

Many people call this "stick season" and it's an apt description. Stick season is when trees stretch their bare limbs heavenward, opening vistas we couldn't see through the leaves. It’s a time of revelation that allows light to filter through, when even dense forest views become clear.

Perhaps that's how I'll now try to think of this season - as a time to enjoy fallen leaves like a child, to listen to the quiet, and pull darkness around me like a warm quilt – but also a time of clearing, of being open to possibility, and in the process I'll begin to write for myself a new November story.

Free lance writer, Anne Averyt, lives in South Burlington, with her cat Sam and as many flowers as possible.
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