No Light November in New Hampshire

My eyes struggle to stay open.  The covers hefty on my body. The cold room beckons me to get out of bed, so I snuggle a little deeper and look out at yet another grey November day.  As I turn over, I feel every part of my body ache out in protest. It seems the grey has also settled into my bones as well as my soul. So, this is why old people flock to Florida, I think.


 With a heavy sigh I laboriously lift myself up and out of bed knowing it is going to be another day of drudgery, working toward  and for lightness and light. Coffee first and the regimen begins with light box spectrum light therapy. Then I know I must try to get onto the damned mat for yoga and meditation.  Yes, that combination always elevates my mood. Then there is woods walking with the dog. Yes, nature always helps I think as I slug down my daily triple dose of Liquid Vitamin D3 and feel my low energy working against these remedies that I know are good for me.

 Coffee first, just focus, one step at a time in front of the light and I begin to write.  Yes, writing helps. Then I read a few pages of my book read but that mat just stares back at me taunting.  It is rainy and cold and raw and grey, and the woods will be a nightmare with my golden, Scout, the mud slut who finds any patch of mud and wallows in it pushing his nose and body down deep into the cool dark sludge, he wriggles like a snake to get all the muck he can manage to stick to him. 


Lover of Mud.  Hater of bath.

And then he looks at me smiling as I try to urge him out. For every ounce of joy it brings to him, it brings me exasperation two fold. I have lost my sense of humor and take it as a personal attack on my time when he chooses mud over me. Every time. No, I can’t deal with all that mud today. 

 And as I write Scout is here, at my feet, begging for that woods walk.  Look outside dude I say as he stares up at me with those big brown balls of eyes and that brown nose that is now slowly turning to a dull pink, to erasure nose.  Yes, I think, even the poor dog feels the effects of this darkness as he loses the light, his nose loses its color as I have lost mine. “Snow nose” the experts call it.  I dream of the dog days of summer…those long days of light and swelter with that sun illuminating my skin and the poor dogs nose has enough sunshine to stay brown. 


Brown nose gone for the winter.

A physical reminder that we are all, in one way or another, affected by the lack of light. Three days of sun in the entire month of November. Three. No more. Just three. Three.

I wander into my office and see the watercolor paints.  A perfect distraction from the darkness that is pressing in and trying to suffocate me.  I should paint. That helps. Maybe later I think as I head to the kitchen for another cup of coffee.  One more cup than I usually drink. It is going to be a tough day. I know ALL that I should do and have to do, but the truth is that November is winning today.  It is winning because I know it is just the beginning of so many dark months to come.  I grumble inside and  stumble back past the watercolors and put my coffee down and begin to wash the page with water to limber it up for all of the color it will absorb in my search for joy; for the ignition of the creative energy that lives and resides inside of me. 

 And as I stand swishing the brush in the deepest darkest purple I can find, a precipitous, dizzying ray of light beams through the window and onto my workspace, almost blinding me.  In a glimmering moment of pure exaltation, I exhale a small smile and suddenly feel, a whisper lighter. IMG_2415 (2)I thank the goddess of the sun as my brush moves lightly and freely over the page.  One flicker of sunshine on my table and then you are gone. But today, it is enough. It is more than I had expected as the cloudy day settles in and around and I realize I am going to make it through, yet another, no-light November day in New Hampshire.


11 thoughts on “No Light November in New Hampshire

  1. I think back on this past November, the low-light/no-light November you’re referring to, and I think about everything that was about to happen that we had NO idea about. I think about the damp, dark, coldness, which for me, at that point, was overshadowed by my excitement about seeing my family for Thanksgiving and my impending move to our new home. It seems so strange to think of our 2019 selves. I almost feel foolish in spite of my past self. How could you have not known what was about to happen to the world? Take a few minutes to breathe in the energy of your classroom while you still have it, won’t you? I sometimes scold this part of myself for ever complaining about having a hard day at work. I think about all the days I worried about wasting time on long discussions or taking moments at the beginning of class to share anecdotes with my students; I would get them laughing, even if that meant they took a few more minutes than it should have to get their books or writer’s notebooks out. Writing this, I reprimand myself for a different reason, for micromanaging myself, and I take a moment to appreciate this new change of perspective. My idea of “wasted time” in the classroom has shifted dramatically. And this year, we sort of ache for November again, hoping that November is one month closer to a vaccine, to normalcy, or some new form of normalcy that our current selves, yes, of course, do not and could not possibly know about yet.

  2. I can feel the kind of day you describe here–the grey, the coffee, the beckoning yoga mat, the dog yearning for a walk (though mine prefers deer poop to mud). And that that beam of sunshine–what a treat. I feel like we’ve been living for those little beams of light these days. Even though sunshine abounds outside, it still feels a bit like winter in a strange way. It’s interesting how students talk all year about looking forward to summer, and yet once school shut down, students longed to be back in the classroom. No one was really looking forward to summer because of the uncertainty. November seems so very long ago, doesn’t it? It’s one of my favorite months because it brings with it the holiday season and family gatherings. This past Easter felt so strange not being with family. We attempted a socially distanced Easter egg hunt with my in laws, but it wasn’t the same. And on that day I kept thinking, at least this isn’t Christmas or Thanksgiving. I can live with Easter being cancelled, but Thanksgiving or Christmas? I am not going to wish away summer by any means because it is indeed a much needed pause (ish), but I am looking forward to November. I am also a bit terrified by it, but I feel hopeful that despite all of the darkness, there is light in the future.

  3. This is such a powerful piece of writing, and I can feel your emotion in every word. This was a strange winter for me. I think back to November and December when I was extremely pregnant, and I would try to rush home from work so that I could take my very pregnant self outside and walk. I was convinced that walking every day would lead to a quick and painless labor (ha!) There’s always a time in the year when I know there is absolutely no way I’ll be able to make it home in time to see the light of day.

    This past November and December seemed like such a blur. My husband and I were taking our childbirth classes throughout November, and I would lay on the couch on Monday afternoons dreading getting into the freezing cold car and driving to the hospital. Why in the world did we sign up for these classes? I’d ask myself every Monday night. All I wanted to do after work was sit at home eating ice cream (while resting the bowl on my enormous stomach of course) and watching crummy tv. I knew I was supposed to be happy and optimistic because I was growing this tiny human inside of me, but I still really struggled with many different emotions.

    It’s so interesting to think back to those months because my life has changed completely since then, and I don’t often stop to think about how different things were back then. So, thank you for bringing up those memories inside of me!

  4. Tomasen, this post took me right back to last November. I love November because it feels like a short month, parent conferences then Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season. But last fall and spring were particularly dark. In some ways, it was fitting. Even last November, the world didn’t seem to be on the right track -certainly not a track moving forward.

    On day’s where it’s just too yucky to get outside, I just don’t feel like myself. But even on some days where I could get outside, I feel a weird tug between what I know will make me feel good ( a run or walk, writing, meditation) and just doing NOTHING. I just sink in to feeling low and ride it out on the couch hoping for that little ray of sun like the one that lifted your spirits. Hoping, but doing nothing – not even opening the drapes, to make it happen.

    From now on, I’m going to make an effort to add art into my feel better routine. I know now that I can get lost in art projects and that might just be the key on a low day. Maybe I’ll find my little moment in the sun through markers, paints, and imagination.

  5. Ah, the sun! I have a love hate relationship with it. I love the warmth but not the heat. Higher temps are good but please, no humidity! Dry heat only. I love a good tan, but not the wrinkles that come with it. If only I’d known years ago as I was slathering myself with iodine and baby oil, what the end result would be. In the winter I long for the light and the warmth, and in the summer I long for a cloudy, cold, winter day. Sweet relief! One thing that troubles me about the sun is that for some reason, when its shining BRIGHTLY, I feel a lot of pressure to do something productive. After all, you have to make hay while the sun shines. Clean out the shed, stain the deck, or weed the garden. It all hinges on the sun, though. I commonly refer to myself as a “fair weather” gardener but truth be told, I’m a “perfect weather” gardener. I don’t want it to be too sunny or too humid, but I also don’t want it to be too cloudy or cold either. I’m kind of like Goldilocks. If I work inside the house and it’s sunny and hot outside, I need it to be extremely cool inside. Air-conditioning is a must along with a fan in every room! On summer nights my husband wakes up at least once a night mumbling incoherently about living in a wind tunnel. He turns off the fan and then goes back to sleep while I pretend not to have noticed. I wait until I hear the rhythmic breathing begin again and then I promptly reactivate the wind tunnel. It’s our little thing and I’m not going to lie; I do get some pleasure out of knowing at some point my husband will get out of bed and turn it off again. Did I mention I prefer afternoon sun to morning sun? But only if I’m on a lake!

  6. That last paragraph is truly something else! It is so so beautiful and ethereal. You’re writing voice really comes through so wonderfully and I have such a great time reading your blog entries. I also feel really connected to the sunlight and find that it brings me a sense of calm when it shines down like that. Art and sunshine seem to melt together so beautifully that having a ray of sunshine on your artwork feels like such a good omen. The end of this piece brought a sense of calm and mindfulness with it–love it!

  7. I could feel the heaviness in your words. The disappointment and lack of motivation. As I read I wondered if you were going to give in and take the dog out for the walk. It is interesting to think about how much light changes our mood and motivation. I love sitting in one of the rooms in my house and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. It brings me happiness. The piece reminded me to be kind to myself. Even when things aren’t going well it is alright to accept it and move on.

  8. There really is nothing worse than going to work in the dark and getting home in the dark. And, as you wrote, and it’s the worse, because – as you wrote, “I know it is just the beginning of so many dark months to come.” For me, the indication that it will be a long, dark winter? I’ve already finished my Christmas shopping… I love Christmas shopping and it’s my own little light in the winter darkness. But to be finished before Thanksgiving? Honestly, before November even started? I’ve used up my little light already… I think it’s going to be a long, long, No Light November this year.

  9. Just “fell back” today. Bright yellow light on brown and crusty orange at this hour. Is it noon or eleven am? Tis all so weird. Why do we do this thing???. I have been heavy, and the thought of less light has been weighting me down all week as I anticipated this day. Your personification of November was so perfect. This past week, November has been winning. Heavy hearts, heavy feet, anxious, gnarled, twisted thoughts. The world is still off kilter, and even more so as we enter the next stage of bitter cold and even more unanswered questions…..Paints are helping me today. And, if I stand behind glass and let that sun hit my face, I feel hope.

  10. I liked all the emotions this article elicited. I’m especially thinking about the late this week because of daylight savings time on Sunday. It is lighter in the morning when we are going to school, but in the evening it’s darker an hour earlier, and getting darker earlier every day. My son plays soccer and at the end of summer they could play from 5 to 7 at night easily. This week the sun was setting at 4:26 PM! This week when him and his friend made plans to play soccer after school together, I’m not sure anyone realized how little time they had of daylight to play! I think New England is a pretty special place to live. We have long days of sunshine in the summer and shorter days in the winter. But I like the variety. When we go to visit where my husband grew up in northern Peru close to the equator, all year round the sun rises and sets at seven almost exactly. It’s nice to have change. It helps to move things along and not be too mundane and redundant.

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