If someone asked me to grade the months of the year there’s no question that April and May would both get an “A”. April would deserve that grade because that’s the month the waterfowl return, the days are warming and many are absolutely balmy, the rains are usually gentle, it’s nice enough to get back on the bike, waterfalls are at their peak flow, and spring’s first wildflowers are in bloom. May receives an “A” for its generally lovely days, the surge in blooming wildflowers, colorful warblers that are returning from their winter quarters in Central and South America, deciduous trees’ buds are bursting and new leaves are expanding, in May it’s warm enough to comfortably put the canoe back on the water.
October also gets an “A” for its glorious fall colors, its pleasantly warm days with a crystal blue sky, bike rides without hordes of other folks on the rail-trail, some of the best canoeing of the year, ripe apples, white-tail bucks and bull elk that have shed their antlers’ velvet, and the bugling of rutting elk.
All the other months have their good and not so good sides that, in my opinion, warrant grades of “B” or “C” – all that is except November which gets a richly deserved “D”. Why a “D”? Because November is dark, damp, dreary and depressing, the cloudiest month of the year. Unlike me, some of my friends love November because of Thanksgiving feasts and family get-togethers, because Christmas is just around the corner, or because they’re enthusiastic hunters and deer and bear seasons are in November.
I’ll step back from grading the months to say that even in dark, damp, dreary and depressing November there are still wonderful things to see in the great outdoors. A day’s walk in field and forest reveals some color:
The yellow of a goldenrod, probably the last one I’ll see this year –
More yellow – the fruit of horse nettle –
On a field’s edge a cranberrybush viburnum with its brilliant fruit –
And the mottled bark of a sycamore that also grows along the edge –
The field/woodland border is a good place to find “wild” apple trees and here was one still holding a few apples, shriveled now from having been frozen –
Then in another tree the color of the tail of a red-tailed hawk that was preoccupied in scanning for an unwary squirrel –
On a far hillside the crown of an aspen positively glowed with bright yellow leaves that were still hanging on –
Entering the forest the red leaves of a seedling red maple came into view –
Also growing low to the ground was a black huckleberry that still held a few leaves –
And a partridgeberry with its green leaves and bright red fruit –