Hardly a month passes since the Great October Blow of Ought Ten (remember that, do you?) and Mother Nature deals us thunderstorms – and even a  tornado out Rockford way.   We dropped over thirty degrees as the front pushed through – and I couldn’t be happier.  We may even get some snow over the holiday.

I dislike sixty degree days in November.  If I wanted to live in a Tennessee climate, I’d move to Nashville.   I’m a big fan of having four distinct seasons.  It gives variety to otherwise bland Midwestern lives, and gives one a philosophical depth unavailable to those living south of Interstate 80. 

There is a holiday hub-bub in the air and a line of cars waiting to park at the grocery store. On the way to the market I noticed the gurgling call of dozens of Sandhill cranes winging their way south.  I have been waiting for this sign of autumn to appear, and these birds are no fools – taking advantage of the clear skies and stiff northwest tailwinds available on the backside of the passing cold front.

So it is November at last.  The cranes will leave us city folk in their wake far below and far behind.  In a matter of minutes they will cross Interstate 80,  losing their ties to modern civilization.  They don’t seem to mind.  They’re willing to trade such niceties to dig for crayfish in some distant temperate marsh, mud squishing between their toes.  They’re leaving behind the debate of what an authentic November should be for the three of us to work out: you, me, and that sleet-storm simmering in the Dakotas .        

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Dave Coulter

I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration...