Matthew Gallaway:

These days when I go out in the garden, I’m reminded of how, as a kid, I used to feel at the end of August, when the start of school loomed and you could already hear the gates to freedom and laziness clanking shut. As an adult, it’s a dread of winter tempered by the last of the color; the brightness is all the more striking for being found in a web of leafless, grey vines and branches. There’s a certainty that what remains is about to end.

…Then there are the conifers, which, for staying green all year round, must be considered the optimists of the garden (or perhaps the insomniacs). They actually look forward to the snow, which is why we must regard these trees with equal parts admiration and skepticism—they’re not the kind of someones you’d necessarily want to start a business with. And finally it’s important to acknowledge the moss, which as it slowly creeps over the brick reminds us that all paths lead to the same end.

I’ve really come to appreciate November in particular among the triptych of my favorite months of the year. October gets all the attention due the standard-bearer of all things beautiful about autumn, and December, well, you know how that goes. But there’s the middle child, November, overlooked and underappreciated by its more flamboyant siblings. Cold enough to be pleasant, not quite cold enough yet to make your bones ache. Smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, allowing enough time to have savored some while still anticipating others. And honestly, some years it seems that the leaves don’t reach their peak display until the beginning of November anyway.

On the horticultural side of things, I’ve never felt saddened by bare branches and dead leaves. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of walking for hours during the Christmas break among the vast-to-my-young-mind expanse of conifers behind my house (many of which have been replaced by more and more houses in the last couple decades, to my chagrin every time I go back to visit my parents). I have several ringing my yard here, and I hope to plant more in the spring.

The last day of November already? I’m a bit sad, I have to say.