November 2019 Almanac

November is cold mornings and cashmere.

Before the earliest skein of geese break the silence of the day, you unearth your winter wardrobe, rediscovering the ageless sweater that, despite its annual reappearance, always feels brand-new.

When the geese trumpet across the sky, you are cradling your coffee by the kitchen window, watching the backyard squirrels zigzag like pinballs as they unearth their own buried treasures.

November is time to take stock.

On the back porch, there is kindling to split. And back in the kitchen, one dozen Bartlett pears resemble a Claude Monet still-life.

What will you bring to the table this month?

One dozen Bartlett pears now peeled, cored, and chopped, simmer on the stovetop with three pounds of cranberries, two cups of dried cherries, one cup of sugar.

November is equal parts sweet and bitter.

Your bones seem to know that winter is near, yet your skin sings in cashmere.

Even as the autumn leaves descend, the Earth continues to give, give, give.

Pastel sunrises.

Winter squash and rainbow chard.

Murmurations of starlings.

And camellia blossoms which, despite their annual reappearance, always feel like tiny miracles.

Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable, the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street or road by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese. Both are warnings of chill days ahead, fireside and topcoat weather. — Hal Borland

What Will You Create?

Thanksgiving is celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 28. As you craft your Thanksgiving plate with the zest of a landscape architect, consider what you are creating on a larger scale. Are you building a life that is savory? Bitter? Sweet? Or does it offer a little bit of everything — bursting at the seams with color and flavor, yet with enough space for gratitude and magic?

Looking Up

According to National Geographic, three of the top sky-watching events of 2019 happen this month, beginning with the Transit of Mercury on Nov. 11. Of course, you won’t be able to witness what will look like a tiny pinhole traveling across the sun with the naked eye, nor should you attempt this without safety precautions (eclipse glasses, solar binoculars, solar filters, etc.). According to the article, “This will be the last transit of Mercury available to North Americans until May 7, 2049.”

On Sunday, Nov. 24, don’t miss brilliant luminaries Venus and Jupiter close as ever in the southwest horizon — just 1.4 degrees apart. And on Thanksgiving Day, 45 minutes after sundown, take another look low in the southwestern sky and see what National Geographic calls the “celestial summit meeting” of Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and a hairline crescent moon.

The Power of Gratitude

The correlation between gratitude and happiness was common sense long before it was research material. And yet, time and again, psychologists’ findings support what poets and sages of the ages have long been conveying: Gratitude is good for you.

Moreover, it can radically change your life.

A recent article by Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing offers six simple practices for cultivating gratitude:

1. Write a thank-you note.

2. Thank someone mentally.

3. Keep a gratitude journal.

4. Count your blessings.

5. Pray.

6. Meditate.

And while we’re on the subject, here are three powerful quotes on gratitude that suggest its utter potency:

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” — Eckhart Tolle

“We need to learn to want what we have, not to have what we want, in order to get stable and steady happiness.” — Dalai Lama

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” — Oprah Winfrey

Happy Thanksgiving!

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