One of the pleasures of living in New England is experiencing the changing seasons. Okay, I admit not everybody feels this way. But I’ve always enjoyed the often dramatic ways that different seasons alter the landscape.

Nov7  Here in Vermont the brilliant explosion of color that is our foliage season has ended. The leaves have fallen, revealing the structure of the hardwood trees. Against the November sky, large branches narrow into smaller ones and then to twigs, giving the impression of a root system. Or, when I’m feeling a bit more fanciful, I think it resembles black lace. It always takes me a week or so to adjust to this change. November is so visually stark compared to October, it’s easy to miss its beauty.

But it’s there. The apple trees on the hill – relics of an old orchard – are decorated with gold Nov7or russet apples which remind me of nothing so much as Christmas tree ornaments. The richly yellow honeysuckle leaves stand out now that most of the landscape has turned brown. The woods have opened up so it’s possible to see the streams and old stone walls that wander through them, marking the boundaries of long-ago farm fields. Houses are revealed that were hidden by foliage all summer. The distant hills are purple now and on clear evenings, at dusk, the sky is deep cerulean blue, darkening to indigo and slowly pricked by stars.

November’s is a different kind of beauty. It takes more effort to see it.

Nov3Writing has its seasons, too. There are times when the words flow bright and vivid and strong, when you’re excited and energized, thrilling at the ride. Then there are times that are more challenging, when you feel the need to prepare for a cold time ahead – gray-sky days, if you will. These are times to clear your head and study the structure of your work, to focus on small details you didn’t even consider before, to gauge the boundaries and intersections of your story arc. Times to let your vision adjust to the darkness of uncertainty.

Until you can see the stars.