In our last installment, I was self-soothing with banana cream pie, a gateway drug, and hikes into the foothills with White Fang, our demi-dog, who’s about the size of a sheep yet produces much more quality wool.
If you’ve ever had a Siberian husky, you know that their only real flaw, aside from an affinity for escaping, is that they shed great gobs of fur. Were I a children’s author, I’d pen a book about a rescue husky who can’t keep a home because she buries her bighearted foster families in fogs of thick fuzz.
Fortunately, White Fang has a home. Not a great home — our home, where fogs of fuzz exist side by side with the spotty Wi-Fi and the printer that’s always low on ink.
Like most dopes, White Fang loves to chase things. So this being November, I wanted to dress the place in fake pheasants. I am drawn to the birds’ tartan colors and their dignity. Like me, pheasants are attracted to creek beds and free corn.
Pheasants seem emblematic of November, when wisps of smoke curl from cottages and old men like me sit around on apple crates and talk about the speed of life.
“Before you know it, we’ll be playing baseball again,” I was assuring my buddy Paul the other day.
Meanwhile, we had only three trick-or-treaters at Halloween, and I was two of them. Normally, we don’t dish out candy to trick-or-treaters who circle back, but the kids were desperate to get rid of me, so they threw a few Snickers in my pillowcase and wished me well, pretending I hadn’t been at our door five minutes earlier.
It’s not easy being the village idiot. But it has certain privileges.
I can’t seem to focus on anything but pie and candy these days, and I am distracted by the littlest, lamest things. Maybe it’s the change in seasons, the chilly mornings, the end of baseball, which always breaks my heart a little.
The strange silence you hear? That’s the lack of baseball. Don’t care for it much.
But I do like November. It looks like pheasants and smells like pumpkins. There’s a bustle to the month, a different texture. You pull out a sweater you haven’t seen in six months. You eye that corduroy coat.
In November, the coffee steams like porridge. Pause the movie while I go find my slippers, OK? Hey, where’d we put that crummy old blanket you like?
October means Hitchcock and World Series heartache. November is acorns and Longfellow, parades and pie. Back East, they pull in the canoes and get out the storm windows; out here, we replace the wiper blades. Same thing.
November is also when the morning glories blossom … they seem lighted from within. November must be when most poems are written.
It is absolutely the best month for a charity 5K or a long walk in the woods at dusk. You really should breathe hard at least once a week. We’re all wolves, to some degree.
“A great meal warms you like a hug” — a friend said the other day after polishing off a plate. That is notable, since November is the month of our greatest food coma.
It’s my birthday month as well. The first month I ever saw was November. It’s the month by which I judge all others. Clean the fireplace, light the oven. November is a great big candle.
It is also a huge month for homecomings. Those college kids you shipped away will soon be back with suitcases full of dirty undies, mostly their own. They will drop their stuff at your door and race off to their favorite late-night hangouts for ramen bowls and friends. They might even join you in church. Don’t hold your breath on that. But it happens.
Harvests. Hearths. Homecomings. I just like H-words, I guess. If there’s a more soulful month than November, I have yet to find it. It is both ebullient and wistful.
And when you have a wolf-dog, as we do, every day is a homecoming. You should see White Fang celebrate the afternoon arrival of the little guy from school. Wolves are many things: savvy, bloodthirsty and prone to wander great distances.
Like college kids, I suppose.
Wolves are also loyal and beautiful, and when you come home, they’ll put their paws up on your shoulders and slurp you like you liberated Paris. Each day. Every day.
Like kids — like homecomings — dogs remind us that the little things are really the big things.