Friday, November 12, 2021

Stick Season

Each year, when we reach November, I find ways to distract myself from – well, all things November-y. The damp chill that settles into bones. The protracted dark of the mornings and evenings. The stark bareness of the landscape once all the leaves drop from their trees and the growing, blooming things of summer have turned to dormancy.  

The moniker of Stick Season is certainly apt for this month between the blazing colors of autumn and the sweeping snow and lacy frost that decorate winter. I prefer all the other seasons to this one. Even Mud Season, on the other side of winter, at least holds the promise of more light and warmth and blooming. 

During Stick Season, I will myself to appreciate the little things, the everyday blessings. I revel in the sunny days, even if they’re cold, just for the fullness of light. I am thankful for the leaves that hold on for a bit longer – on the rugosa hedge and the lilac bushes. For the lingering golden glow of the tamaracks. And for the views – both macro and micro – that open up during Stick Season: mountain vistas obscured in other seasons by dense foliage, a cecropia moth cocoon hanging in the cold light from a now-bare branch.


I notice things I miss in other months. The deer that come to eat fallen apples in our just-mown field, which at the start of autumn was filled with a riot of goldenrods and asters in various hues. The few ferns that remain green through the year – even now, amid the browns and grays – but are just part of the landscape of color during summer and early fall. The artful form of trees emerging in their bareness: the bend of each trunk, the spread of branches ending in intricate webs of twigs. 


It seems right, too, that Thanksgiving comes near the end of this month, this Stick Season. It is easy, perhaps, to be thankful for spring’s pastel flowers and summer’s easy cheerfulness, for the colors of autumn and the festivities of winter. Stick Season allows us – or forces us, perhaps – to consider the things right before us and to contemplate the things for which we are thankful.  

Original content published by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul. This essay appears as Meghan's November 4, 2021 Close to Home column in the Littleton Record.