Exploring November in The Last Green Valley
“Now the hours of daylight are shortening noticeably. Dusk and dark advance minute by minute as these November nights close down. By midafternoon today it is beginning to resemble sundown under a heavily veiled sky,” — Edwin Way Teale from the chapter “Darker Days” in his book “Circle of the Season: A Journal of a Naturalist’s Year.”
Welcome to November, a month with two special holidays, one to give honor and the second to give thanks. Between those two holidays nature will quicken its pace toward winter, the change on the land stark and visible as dark mornings signal the coming cold.
The colorful foliage of October was spectacular, but the inevitable leaf drop is now in full procession. Our maples, hickory, and birch stand naked, their tattered multicolored coats of yellow, red and orange discarded to the ground. Marking the turn of the season, the cycle of bud to leaf to litter is complete. Only the rust-brown oak leaves remain. With darker days ahead, the mighty giants hold fast, their thinning garments a last stand against the chill.
This month, on the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year, we pause to celebrate and honor the service of all our U.S. military veterans. The date marks the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. Originally called Armistice Day, the name was changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954 at the urging of U.S. veterans’ organizations. Our region is home to many veterans who served in our country’s military. On Friday I hope you’ll take time to celebrate and honor their dedication and service to freedom and democracy.
This year Thanksgiving arrives on Nov. 24, the earliest date it can be in the month. The national holiday gets its roots from Thursday, Nov. 16, 1789, when President George Washington issued a proclamation for “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln encouraged Americans to recognize the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving. In 1870 Congress made it official and passed legislation making Thanksgiving (along with Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day) a national holiday.
For many of us the holiday is about football games, roasted turkey and an overindulgence of food. For me it means gathering with family and friends and breaking bread in shared conversation and community. We celebrate the bountiful crops of our local farms, as well as the bountiful harvest of our lives together in love, care and friendship.
More recently folks also take the day after Thanksgiving off from work to get in some early Christmas shopping and kick off the holiday spending spree. For me I would rather spend the day after Thanksgiving to OptOutside for a nice fall season experience in nature. This year I’ll be leading a hike at Natchaug Forest in Eastford on Nov. 25 for OptOutside with TLGV. Contact me for details.
This month’s full moon will rise just after sunset on Nov. 7 and reach peak illumination in the morning of Nov. 8 at 6:02 a.m., just in time for Election Day! The November full moon is called the Beaver Moon since this is the time of year when beavers take shelter in their lodges for the cold winter months. During the time of the fur trade in North America, it also marks the start of trapping season when beavers’ pelts were thick and had greater value.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the November full moon will also be a Blood Moon when the full moon is accompanied by a total lunar eclipse. “The Moon, Sun and Earth stand in line with the Earth in the middle, causing our planet’s shadow to be cast on the Moon. This gives the full Moon a reddish, coppery hue, as well as the nickname of Blood Moon.” The total lunar eclipse begins at 3:02 and will be total at 5:59 a.m. Nov. 8 when it is close to setting. To see this amazing astrological show, you’ll want to find a location with a clear view of the western horizon.
We live in a beautiful place called The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. Every day of every week in all 12 months of the year we have the opportunity to enjoy our stunningly picturesque region. I hope you’ll join me, and together let us enjoy it, care for it, and pass it on.
Information about the U.S. National Holidays comes from the United States House of Representatives History, Art, and Archives website. Other sources used for this column include the Farmer’s Almanac website.
Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. He can be reached at 860-774-3300.
Exploring The Last Green Valley, Sunday, November 6, 2022
The Norwich Bulletin is granted first serial rights and associated electronic rights to publish the following article. The Last Green Valley, Inc. retains all other rights to the work.
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