Guilt Free

Jessie: In New Hampshire where it well and truly feels like winter is on the way.

Yesterday, as my husband and I set out in the car on some errands he remarked that it certainly looked like fall. I replied that it really looked like November. To me, there is just something so melancholy about November.

In Northern New England the leaves have all tumbled to the ground save those clinging tenaciously to the odd beech tree. The ground has started to freeze to a gelato-like consistency of lumpy hillocks about the lawn. The afternoons are bleak, and often bleary, just past three o’clock. Salad seems too chilly to eat.

And while all that may seem discouraging to people who cannot get enough of the warmer months, to me, honestly, it is a bit of a relief. You know those things your parents say, that their parents likely said, and you, in turn say to those people younger than yourself? In my family those things often included admonishments concerning the weather. In my family, squandering a beautiful day by lurking about inside the house has always been practically a form of sinfulness.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to be outside. I adore walking the beach, grilling over an open flame and pottering about in my garden. Those first warm evenings in spring when it is possible to sit on the deck without a jacket are a reason to celebrate. But, in my opinion, so is November.

As the days grow shorter and the cold wraps round the house like a boa constrictor, squeezing ever more determinedly, I feel a sense of lightheartedness. I happen to love lots of activities that make me feel guilty indulging in if the weather is fine. What Yankee worth her salt can justify whiling away a beautiful summer’s day on the couch knitting a sweater, even if it is for a loved one? Or reading books tucked up in a wingback chair inside the house for the afternoon?

With no gardening to do there is more time to attend to those little indoor projects that crop up, like sorting out the pantry or writing a newsy letter to a friend. Or feverishly working away on a new novel. For me November starts the season of research and planning as much as doing. It is a time for gathering in and sorting through and honoring a quieter rhythm.

By April I am quite certain I will once again be telling myself, and my younger loved ones, not to waste a beautiful day withindoors. But for now, I am eager to indulge in November and all that entails, blissfully guilt-free.

Readers, do you love the onset of indoor weather? Writers, are you more or less productive once the dark and cold set in?

27 Thoughts

  1. Same here down in along the seacoast, as the leaves drop my work stops in the towns gardens until it is spring once again. I have switched to no till motto and leaving leaves lie and growing more natives, at 63 perfect timing lol

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    1. The ability to keep warm does make a huge difference. I am sure if that is a problem for someone he or she might not feel very positive about the gathering cold. Thanks for the reminder to count that blessing.

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  2. I saw a meme the other day that said something like “Autumn is my favorite day of the year.” The heat and humidity of summer make me wish for chilly days, but the cold and gray (mostly the gray) of winter gives me SAD and makes me grumpy. Writing-wise, I do get very productive this time of year. I tend to avoid travel (the roads might be bad) so I stay home in Book Jail to make progress on the WIP. When I’m not writing, I’m watching HGTV and getting ideas for household projects.

    Not saying any of those projects get accomplished, but it’s nice to dream!

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  3. What a beautiful post. I find myself a bit low these days for the reasons you mentioned, but it is also a relief to be done with hazy, hot, and humid Virginia summers. Once I get started and am out walking the dog, I perk up. Nothing says guilt free afternoon than spending a rainy, blustery, chilly day binge-watching The Crown, so I think television is my guilt-free bad weather pleasure.

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  4. I feel no guilt in nestling in during the cold months and reading or watching TV. I get my necessary housework done of course but when it’s cold outside, I don’t feel the need to go outside. If hell is other people, Hell+ is other people with colds during the winter. I’ll stay away thank you very much.

    Of course, my natural laziness means that I do the same kind of thing when it is warm outside too. Mow the lawn but being a fat guy means sweaty weather keeps me inside where it is cool.

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  5. Sorry, I just hate gloomy, cold WX. And snow is worse. I’m fortunate that I have a very warm, cozy home to snuggle into. But I miss the yard work (snow shoveling doesn’t count!) and the freedom of movement without all those winter outer clothes. And I, too, suffer from SAD so it makes it even worse. I survive it all by reading a lot and keeping busy with other projects, and looking out the double-paned windows at the pretty snow. I keep saying to myself, “April will come. April will come.”

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    1. The extra layers of clothing are something I get tired of by the middle of the winter too! SAD is a real trial and one I am so sorry to hear causes you difficulty. Huzzah for double-paned windows whilst waiting for April!

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  6. November is a month of contradictions. I love Thanksgiving. It’s the only holiday I willingly decorate for without griping. But like Annette, I suffer from SAD, so the short dark days are not fun for me. Once it snows, my mood lightens but the dying leaves are the opposite of motivating.

    I hear you on the guilt when you’re not doing something “productive.” It’s hard to just be.

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  7. I live in southeastern Texas, so cold, cold is not always around for winter. But when it’s cold, I still go out in the yard, may not be for long, but in/out. I love to read outside, early morning, with coffee.

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  8. I do prefer the chillier or at least milder days of fall and I do find myself a bit more energetic. Although I’m another person who after a string of gray days gets grumpy because I need some sunshine.

    But reading I can do any time of the year. “It’s too cold to go outside” or “It’s too hot to do anything except sit still.”

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  9. I went to play ultimate Frisbee yesterday because a day in the mid-80’s is not to be missed, especially in November.

    As much as I enjoy warm weather, there is something to be said for cold weather to turn off the guilt. But I still prefer summer.

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  10. I am sadly slothful in any season. But like so many here, I hate the early dark. One of the best things about Key West is that it is at the other end of our time zone and we get an extra hour of daylight in the evening automatically when we arrive in January.

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