November 29, 2011

The Colors of Gray November

This year, November hasn't been quite like itself; instead of gray, we've had blue skies and mild temperatures. But today I awoke to a perfect November day, with overcast skies and clouds come down to earth in drifting billows of fog. The contrast of dark with white moisture and the lack of sun and shadow heightens the minimal colors left in the landscape.

The broad view from my bedroom window shows layers of space: trees overlapping trees, hills fading in distance until the farthest White Mountains are seen, partially hidden by banks of clouds. Only broken edges of snowbanks remaine from last week's snow, after days of mild weather.

The dried grasses seem brilliantly golden alongside the whites of icy pond and birch.

Looking back toward the barn, there is still some rich green in the lawn. A dark mass of weeds looks somehow vibrant, repeating the shape of barn and tree.

In my backyard, the leaves of rugosa roses still hold the colors of rust, shouting them loudly enough for me to enjoy from my office window.

Turning and looking back east I see red branches in the gray stone wall and a few russet leaves bravely clinging. This is certainly a melancholy season, as the world quiets and closes in on itself, but it has its own particular beauty. I'd like to offer a perfect poem for November, sad and lyrical, shared this morning by an artist friend from the Netherlands, Martin Scholte. It is by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) and translated by Milan Kundera:

On all hilltops
There is peace,
In all treetops
You will hear
Hardly a breath.
Birds in the woods are silent.
Just wait, soon

You too will rest.


  1. This time of year is well described in the poem. It is good to rest like our little slice of nature is now doing. I will look forward to the revival. Beautiful photos.

  2. You've certainly captured the essence of November. The views from your house are beautiful. It is a reminder to slow down and appreciate Mother Nature.

  3. lovely photos capturing the moody month. an optimistic act these pewter silvery shimmery november days is to plant a few dozen spring flowering bulbs - november has held off just long enough to do this!!!

  4. Thank you for the lovely comments, Lisa, Karen, and frances.
    Here in northern Vermont we plant bulbs in October, so mine have been in the ground for over a month: garlic, and a row of tulips for cutting next spring.

  5. The photos are beautiful and you have captured the perfectly,I experienced a lot of it driving to work and at work and on the way home... ( all in the country also)
    thank you Altoon I love your blog its a wonderful blog!

  6. Beautiful! You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

  7. Thanks Terry and Amy.
    I am very lucky to be living here, and am happy to share it here.

  8. As I look out from our dining room (down an alley), I will imagine these views instead. And appreciate our dormant season: such a vital part of the cycle.

  9. Even if we were having the same weather here, you need those distance views to turn it into poetry. Grey foggy days in the city mostly seem blah rather than the luminous landscape you've captured. (Between the holiday and collecting recall signatures, I am behind on reading and commenting. Hope to catch up soon!)

  10. Beautiful photographs... I am a transplanted New Englander, now living in California... we have our own strange and windy skies this morning, but thank you for the photographs and comments, and the very apt poem. It will be good to paint to later!

  11. thank you Julie and Linda and Ann. I feel that I was lucky to have such a poetic day to photograph; it's been sunny and clear since, and though beautiful, it doesn't have the same rich moodiness.