What a wonderful day so far. Cloudy. That hint of winter storm in the air. My DH and I finish splitting the wood for the year. An old old maple tree down by a vernal pond. Definitely it led an interesting life. Must have seen the cows come and go when this was pasture. Then forest again after the Civil War. Another attempt at pasture--that didn't last long either. The tree itself was just enough out of the way--just twisted enough--that it remained undisturbed for years. Instead it grew burls on top of burls. Beside it a younger red maple sprouted some hundred years ago.
When I knew the old maple, the inside was hollow--a family of porcupines considered it their winter home. They would chatter at us when we went ice skating. Little heads peaking out of one of the holes in the tree. In the summer just a few branches that still had leaves. How hard it tried to keep going.
Never would we have taken it down. We loved the porcupines with their crazy trails in the snow too much. Certainly we did not need the wood. But this summer, a gust of wind hit the younger red maple--knocked its top off and on the way down felled the old tree right into the pond. Now if the maple had fallen in the woods we would have just left it to rot--but it was just enough in the way that it needed to be moved. Being good Yankees of course we cut it up. What a pain it was to split. The wood already starting to rot. Twisted and turned. It split into strange chunks of wood. Not easy to stack but so dry we could burn it right away. Every Sunday we would spend an hour or two working on this wood--a really big pile. Finally today we finished. The last rounds just as ornery as the first ones.
The perfect thing to do on Thanksgiving morning. We have enough wood that inside the fire is roaring. I have an apple pie in the oven--just made some cranberry sauce with pears and apples. Then for Thanksgiving dinner I will make squash and chick peas--Moroccan style--with tomatoes and coconut milk to take over to our friends. It sure sounds good.
And I think of all I have to be thankful for--my DH, my step-children. Family and friends. Three cats sleeping by the fire. I read a blog post by skinny artist and realize that I am indeed thankful that I can actually support myself making quilts. I never dreamed that would have been possible when I was growing up. Pretty amazing the world we live in.
I think of the old maple tree now gathered for a final celebration in the fire. Isn't this what November is--Thanksgiving--gathering up all the life of the year with it gnarly burls, the hollow insides, the adventures and splitting and stacking them to use for warmth during the cold dark months. The celebration of life.
Emily Dickinson compared the month of November to Norway. I have never been to Norway but I like November--the subtle colors, the anticipation of snow and long cold nights by the fire. Time with family and friends. The contrast between light and dark. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday-- wonderful foods and pure enjoyment of being. And I do have lots to be Thankful for.
And you--what do you have to give thanks for? What are your thoughts of November?