November Roses

In public school, we memorized Thomas Hood’s poem, November, which ends:

“No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, / No comfortable feel in any member– / No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, / No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, / November!”

It has been decidedly grey this month. Yesterday was one of the wettest November 16ths on record. However, I want to speak in the month’s favour from a gardener’s perspective; even a somewhat Northern gardener who finds herself on the cusp of winter.

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Purple Berberis thunbergii in autumn

There are things to be thankful for in November. I’m thankful for November roses, for one thing. What business does a rose have blooming when there are no bees to bumble in it? Yet there are always a few steadfast hangers on — and the cold weather helps them hang on even longer than their hot-weather predecessors. On top of that, I’m thankful for an unexpected minute of sunshine on November roses.

I’m thankful for the way the cold snaps have burnished the leaves on the ivy. When winter comes, the ivy leaves in Toronto will be dry and frizzled. In November, they remain shiny and marbled with red.

I’m thankful for other leaves, too. Purple Berberis turns into red and golden embers at this time of year, fountains of colour. A single maple holding its golden leaves, long after the trees around it have shed theirs. Weeping willows seeming like fond memories of summer, some of them still as green. Grass also seeming more lush than ever.

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Pyracantha coccinea berries (or, more accurately, “drupes”)

I’m thankful for berries. Even the quiet ones, like those that appear in profusion on my burning bush every other year. And its other euonymus cousins, with their hidden pink-orange clusters. Rose hips. The bunches of high-bush cranberry peeping through the fence from my neighbour’s yard. Pyracantha climbing on the front wall.┬áThe constantly changing collage of fallen leaves. The gloss of rain that amplifies the colour.

November makes me appreciate subtleties. It reminds me to look closely, enjoy my minute of sunshine and search for moments of grace in small things. And for that, I’m thankful.

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