November rain

Rain makes the November woods less gray: tree trunks green up as the moss swells and lichens open their pores. The contrast between dark bareness and bright accretion is repeated in the stones of my garden, which remind me of barnacled sea creatures. In back of the house, beyond my kitchen window, the leafless black raspberry canes glisten, a tangle of arches in every shade of purple.

At least it’s a warm rain. I go out to take a leak in the driveway, and find myself gazing at the wild rosehips in front of the wall — such an enticing red! A squirrel crouches on a branch to husk a walnut, fur twitching under the too-short porch of its tail.

Flooded out of its hole beside the old stone well, a garter snake, too, looks unusually brightly colored. At my approach, it shrinks and expands simultaneously, curling into an S shape and flattening its body: yellow stripes on dark brown like a multi-lane highway viewed from the air. All empty threat, of course, but still I keep my distance. Up at the bird feeder, the tufted titmice look like punk rockers with their crests matted into liberty spikes.

It’s raining, it’s pouring, we used to chant when we were five — but nobody’s snoring here yet. In this kind of rain, you’d think the damn gutters would clean themselves, wouldn’t you? I brew a rare second cup of coffee.

The wind is from the east, and the barometric pressure is low enough to be detectable as a sort of nameless elation. I keep going out onto the porch to watch the shreds of cloud scudding in over the treetops, gray against the white cloud ceiling.

*

Loud at first, the rain
grows quieter by the hour
on a hillside deep
in fallen leaves.

19 Comments


  1. I like this description of a nice well-behaved November, unlike what we’re having.

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  2. Well, we did have a brief torrential period this morning that did a little bit of damage to our driveway. But yeah, nothing like what you poor soaks out in the Pacific Northwest are getting.

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  3. Dave Said, “In this kind of rain, you’d think the damn gutters would clean themselves, wouldn’t you? ”

    You need Gutter Condom. Call your local rep today!!!

    Gutter Condom, Pat and TM pending of AccountingTroll Industries.

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  4. I don’t know if this is a haibun, but it feels like one. Maybe we should all revisit that form again. Nothing but rain up here, too – but I do like the intensity of colors you get when the sky is so grey!

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  5. Yes, it was meant to be haibun. I was reminded of the form by Patry Francis’ post of one at Simply Wait the other day.

    I gather that a cold front is supposed to blow in tomorrow, bringing clearer weather for the weekend.

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  6. Love the details here, Dave. They’re bright as the autumn leaves.

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  7. Nice post, smells like November (a warm November, here in Southern Europe).
    You reminded me of the wooden barometer in my parents’ house, when I was a kid. I wonder if the pressure is related to my well-being.

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  8. Les – Thanks! And welcome to Via Negativa.

    May – Welcome to you also — good to “see” two new “faces” in one comment thread.

    I know some people say that their moods aren’t affected by the weather, but I’m not one of them. The occasional tropical storm systems we get here during hurricane season are especially exciting because the pressure dips so low. Of course, high-pressure days can lift the spirit too, with blue skies and ample sunshine. It’s all the stuff in between that gets you down.

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  9. True. I love both rain and blue skies but not cloudy, still weather. The same applies to living: I cannot be happy just by surviving from one day to the next.

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  10. I agree. A day in which I haven’t done anything creative feels like a waste.

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  11. I keep going out onto the porch to watch the shreds of cloud scudding in over the treetops, gray against the white cloud ceiling.

    Love that line. I’ve been watching the clouds a lot this week. The garter snakes seem to be abandoning their hibernacula up here too as a result of so much rain.

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  12. Thanks. I imagine a saturated ground must be a damned nuisance for a whole lot of burrowing creatures.

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  13. Yesterday it felt like mid-September and looked like late October. But it does smell like November – that rotting leaf smell is kicking in. The tree trunks are all coated with moss here, too, and the boulders look like they’ve been spray-painted with a fine green mist. I was noticing yesterday how green the woods are.

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  14. It’s raining, it’s pouring…is also the start of a lovely song performed by Barbra Streisand with another singer: “No more tears”

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  15. leslee – The smell, yes! ‘Tis the season to rot and ferment. My friend L. is making cheese. I should be brewing beer.

    May – I’m not familiar with the song, but I’m sure she got it from the children’s rhyme, which is very widespread in the U.S.

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  16. It’s an old song. If you are in your twenties, you are too young to remember.

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  17. I’m forty. It’s just that my exposure to popular culture has been very spotty over the years.

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  18. You must have developed more creativity than those people whose only source of conversation are television shows.

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