Favorite Things ~ November Edition

I agree wholeheartedly with Jodi’s sentiments about November over on Curious Acorn. (Y’all, get to know her if you don’t already. She is one of my best-beloveds.) It is truly one of my favorite months, second only to that holly-crowned queen of a December. Strangely enough, however, I seem to forget just how splendidly I love it until it rolls around again in its modest way, stealing up so quietly I almost don’t realize it’s there until I’m in the midst of it.

“How can it be November again?” I always ask myself.

And why is the year so inexpressibly, unbearably beautiful in its slow death? I am tempted to say that even the wild greening of late April is unable to compare with the loveliness of blood-red dogwoods and ambered hickories. The scent of woodsmoke and decaying leaves is enough to bring tears to my eyes, and there’s a wistfulness to the angle of the light that brings out every detail of the landscape with the fineness of a delicate etching.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

Autumn color doesn’t arrive full glory till November here in Dixie, but when it does, you forgive her any delay. The sassafras is scarlet, the grapevine is golden, and the trees of the field seem a very rhapsody of crimson and flame. All but the cedars and the pines–they are deepening and intensifying their greens to an almost blue-bloom of freshness, in readiness for their great honor come December…

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been! ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

When I’m adorning my table, I always look to seasonal fruit and garden offerings. This little arrangement from a very special luncheon is a combination of damson plums, mistflowers, Japanese maple and and peegee hydrangeas clipped from my mother’s yard. I do love hydrangeas best in the fall, when their hues have mellowed into the pale greens and rust-tipped ivories that remind me of Jasperware.

I know the lands are lit with all the autumn blaze of goldenrod. ~Helen Hunt Jackson

This old mill we stumbled upon in Cornwall a couple of years ago makes me think of George Eliot's Dorlcote Mill.

There is no author I love better in late autumn than George Eliot. Her poignant insights and descriptions fit my mood like a glove. Right now I’m reading The Mill on the Floss, and, while I’m not sure where the plot’s going, she has given me enough clues already to suspect that Maggie Tulliver’s way in life will not necessarily be strewn with roses. I am literally savoring the words, she writes so beautifully.

We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it,–if it were not the earth where the same flowers come up again every spring that we used to gather with our tiny fingers as we sat lisping to ourselves on the grass; the same hips and haws on the autumn’s hedgerows; the same redbreasts that we used to call “God’s birds,” because they did no harm to the precious crops. What novelty is worth that sweet monotony where everything is known, and loved because it is known?

George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

"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

November also means certain tasks in preparation for Christmas, like ironing the linens, giving a shine to all the sconce globes, and polishing the silver. I have to confess–I absolutely love polishing silver. There is nothing like the satisfaction of taking something deplorable and dingy and making it sparkle again. There’s a parable right before me every single year as I’m buffing loved things into brilliance once more with a soft cotton cloth.

And lest you think I’m a glutton for punishment, I will let you in on a little secret that a friend of mine shared with me several years ago that has upgraded the act of polishing silver from a job to a literal magic act: Put your kettle on to boil. Then line your sink with aluminum foil and sprinkle it with a generous cup or two of baking soda. When the water is boiling, pour it over the baking soda in the sink and immerse your silver into the sizzling brew. I promise, if you haven’t seen it before, you won’t believe your eyes. The tarnish literally vanishes. Try dipping a corner of a tray or an edge of a plate just to underscore the magic. It is so amazing, and all that remains is to rinse and polish with a nice, soft, dry cloth.

For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement. ~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Another thing that November has come to mean is novelling. Yes, that is a verb. Just ask Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month, endearingly known as NaNoWriMo. I’ve done it in the past, and it has definitely left its mark. So much so, that my writing partner and I have spent a couple of mad Novembers scribbling frantically after a ridiculous goal we have set for ourselves. And holding each other accountable over the finish line.

We’re at it again this November. I’m plowing through a rewrite of the draft I started last winter. And she’s off on the adventure of a new book. (And trust me–hers is going to be good. You can say that you heard it here first.) The actual word-flow has not been quite the youthful garrulousness of that first NaNoWriMo spree. But it taught me, as I believe nothing else could have, to just keep putting the words down. One after another. That’s all we can do, really. The rest is not our business…

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many--not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. ~Charles Dickens

In closing, I would just like to wish you all the Happiest of Thanksgivings, the crown of this month of blessings.

God be with you all, friends.

12 Responses to “Favorite Things ~ November Edition”

  1. Cheri says:

    Your blog is always so refreshing to read, Lanier. It’s like a glass of cool water to a soul that is parched for domesticity, and all of the other lovely things in life while said soul is a college student studying music. Majoring in violin performance is truly wonderful but it will be delightful to have a Christmas break, and your blog reminds me of all the things I want to do. :)

    Glad to know a secret to polishing silver, I’m anxious tor try it on my growing collection! Thankyou for sharing.

  2. jodi says:

    The Mill on the Floss- keep your tissues handy. And thank you for the shout out. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your beloved, and all who will gather around your beautiful table. Eeek! I better get back to the kitchen! xx

  3. Joanna says:

    Full disclosure: I also like polishing silver! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  4. Maryann says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! When the time comes, let us know when your book is published and how we can purchase it.. :)

  5. I love seeing silver sparkle, too. I will try your polishing advice with my silverware soon.

    Isn’t it funny how Autumn moves SOUTH? When visiting my daughter in New England in early October, the color can be at the end of its’ prime. We are usually at our best in late October.

    The color this year was the best I can remember and it also lasted an unusually long time. I felt it was a gift from God and couldn’t drink it in enough this year.

    I, too, love your writing (but you knew that already). 😉

  6. Mrs. White says:

    I am always inspired when I stop here for a read and a visit!

    I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

    Blessings
    Mrs. White

  7. Alicia says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! I love stopping by the blog for a refreshing glimpse of a life well lived. I think you make me love this season even more with your beautiful descriptions. I, too, love to curl up with a good book this time of year. Any recommendations?

  8. Jeannie says:

    And do you know the secret for polishing copper, my dear? A paste made of flour, salt, and lemon juice. Magic.

  9. Olivia says:

    Oh Lanier, I do so love every post of yours! I too was inspired by Jodi to write a post about lovely November! Ours is rather more wintry, seeing as we’re in Minnesota, but the magic of its days is not diminished. I have been thinking of you especially here, as I read The Peabody Pew from your wonderful bookstore. I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving, and that your December is a holly-crowned queen at her finest!

  10. Josie Ray says:

    Today I return, looking for your Anne photo and quote. It is printed here and will go on my desk as we work through the ups-and-downs of a new antique booth…the quickly alternating days of exultation and overjoyed disbelief and the days of being overwhelmed and wanting to “throw in the towel.” They’re both supposed to be there; it’s part of the process (lmm says, via lanier-who-knows).

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