Monday, 3 November 2008
So, November comes around again. It's been a cold start to the month; the picture above is Boreas, the God of the north wind. I think this representation was taken from a Greek vase, rather nice, I think. Chambers Book of Days has quite a lot to say about November:
In nature, November is the time of transition into winter (although autumn does not "officially" end until late December, in the astronomical division of the seasons). The last leaves fall from deciduous trees this month and many hibernating species commence their winter sleep. Traditionally, for people living closer to the land, it has marked a period of final preparation for the cold, dark months ahead.
The Anglo-Saxons named it Blotmonath - blood month - or Windmonath - wind month - the former because it was time to butcher wn sted menter, and the latter for obvious meteorological reasons. It was at this time of year that fishing stopped and boats were tied up for teh winter, as the seas became too dangerous.
Weather lore includes variations on "if the ice in November will bear a duck then all the rest will be slush and muck" - the implication being that the severity of the months ahead could be predicted by the weather in November. A cold November means a mild, wet winter. Judging by some of the regional variations of the rhyme, this predictive power of ducks is reputed to be at its peak at Martinmas (11th November).
Whether teh ducks are skating or swimming, November's weather is never thought of as kind. The English poet and humourist Thomas Hood (1799-1845) wrote these happy lines when reflecting on a foggy day in London:
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds -
If you decide to venture out of doors at this time of year, and are greeted by a cold, clear night, November offers the opportunity to see two sets of annual meteor showers - The Taurids (25th october - 25th November) and the Leonids (14th - 20th November). The Leonids, so called because they appear to speed outwards form teh constellation of Leo, put on an especially spectacular display on average three times a century, although it is only within the last few years that scientists have managed to predict with any accuracy exactly when these meteor "storms" will occur.
Posted by MrsL at 07:47