James Lileks:

Anyway, November gets the big nix from me. It has the ethos of winter without the manifestations, usually, so you don’t feel as if you’re getting through anything. It’s the waiting room. Thanksgiving? Oh, I do love it, but Daughter’s not coming back this time, and it’s one of those years where the usual elements that assemble have been tossed to the wind. At least we’ll have a new, working stove for the turkey we’re not making.

You know the phrase, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? The journey is winter. The single step is the first of November.

I suppose that’s understandable if you live in Minnesota, as James does. Still, speaking as someone privileged enough to live in the more moderate Mid-Atlantic region rather than the suburbs of the Arctic Circle, November is my favorite month of the year. October is great too — I still retain my childlike love of Halloween, and it obviously stands as the exemplar of autumn, but it also starts off a little warm for my taste, not really cooling down until the middle of the month. December, of course, enough said. But November is overlooked and underrated. In our hyper-political age, it’s become known as the month where we’re expected to break bread with our politically offensive uncles. I find that more often than not, it’s the month where the autumn leaves are at their peak, providing a perfect contemplative backdrop for the month which serves as a calm midpoint between the two commercial monsters, the pumpkin-spiced Scylla and the tinsel-bedecked Charybdis. Savor it, wherever you are, and enjoy this wonderful poem from Linda Pastan:

It is an old drama
this disappearance of the leaves,
this seeming death
of the landscape.
In a later scene,
or earlier,
the trees like gnarled magicians
produce handkerchiefs
of leaves
out of empty branches.

And we watch.
We are like children
at this spectacle
of leaves,
as if one day we too
will open the wooden doors
of our coffins
and come out smiling
and bowing
all over again.