November in upstate New York is a dreary month, often gray and rainy, dim and chill. Each day the daylight is shorter; the recent time change brings the darkness earlier. December’s promise of sparkling white of snow to multiply the light is only a dream.
There are two large maple trees in my back yard. The silver maple at the back of the lot loses its leaves early and uneventfully. The color of dust, one day they are down and gone, shriveled into almost nothingness.
In contrast, the Norway maple, the one too close to the house, changes to yellow, a bright cheerful color -- November sunshine. When the leaves finally fall, brought down by the wind and the rain and mixed with the warm brown leaves from the neighbor’s oak, they fill the yard and cover the driveway with heaps of captured light. Their crunchiness clusters around the back door inviting you to rake them up and call the children for a jump.
The rain may be drumming dismally against my windows, but each time I walk through the upstairs hall, there through the windows in the door to the upstairs back porch, at least for a couple of weeks, is the cheerful glow of sunshine. I step out onto the porch and am surrounded by it. I breathe in the freshened rain-washed air. It may be too cold to stay long but a brief visit or even a glimpse from the warmth of inside cheers me.
I always hate to see the leaves raked up. I know it must be done before the arrival of snow turns it into an impossible task, but I always feel a bit sad to see the ground tidy, but bare and dark, as the November sunshine, now fading, sits in heaps at the curb waiting for the trucks that take it away.