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These Bare November Days

My sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

— Robert Frost, My November Guest

Stick season in New Hampshire. Sleet and rain greet me as I bring the pup out for her morning relief. These are darker days, surely, for the days are shorter than they were yesterday and the day before. The earth turns a cold shoulder on the warmth of the sun, and we are left to work with the light that’s left for us.

I don’t struggle with seasonal depression, but I certainly understand where it comes from. The trick is to get outdoors anyway and greet the day no matter how dismal her response or cold her shoulder. We navigate through our days, rain or shine. That’s not naive optimism, it’s awareness of the conditions around and within. Dress accordingly.

Frost was a New Hampshire resident, just up the road a bit from where I call home. He lived through his own share of dark Novembers and naked trees. He turned his days into poetry. I wonder sometimes, especially on cold, wet and dark November mornings, what are we doing with our own?

As the sleet accumulated on the walk, the pup delighted in this new world of snow cone bliss. She ran about, licking up this unexpected abundance of icy treats, tail wagging furiously in her excitement at this previously unimagined experience. When you treat whatever the universe throws at you with such wonder, how can you do anything but love these bare November days?

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