6 Ways to connect with Nature in November:
"In November, the trees are standing all sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers. They know it is time to be still." - Cynthia Rylant
November arrived this year with a windy and mighty wet storm. The Anglo Saxons called November "Wind Monath," and living in the countryside I can understand why. The leaves have been blown from the trees in the garden and surrounding woodland having been left naked. Their tree skeletons standing dormant against the grey horizon. The garden borders are now reduced to hues of different shades of brown with a few stoic plants still holding onto their flowers. The fallen wet leaves strewn across the borders where I will leave them to lay providing shelter for the mini beasts that are out in the elements.
On the 8th November there will be the final full moon before winter solstice and a full moon lunar eclipse. November's full moon is called Beaver moon, Frost moon or Snow moon. November signals the impermanence of nature, a time of transition for nature, from summer to winter and a time of self reflection and adaption for us. As we head towards winter we adapt to a different way of seasonal living, going with the flow, sometimes not a choice having to navigate the stormy weather. I like to write down my thoughts in my journal, setting new goals, new dreams, new passions and with that comes new possibilities and future projects for my artwork.
So with the darker evenings and less sunshine I prefer to think about November as a time to celebrate nature's transformation and here are 6 ways that you can connect with nature;
N - Nocturnal Nature
Just because the days are shorter doesn't mean that there isn't a plethora of night time animals to listen out for and to observe, such as foxes, deer, badgers and bats. I love stargazing and on a clear November night whilst looking up to the night sky I love nothing more than hearing the owls calling out to each other. I'm no expert on the owls that live and hunt in my area, but I'm pretty sure I can hear 2 tawny owls calling to each other. I have witnessed a barn owl flying up and down the countryside hedgerows, across the farmland. Watching his white frame floating along the hedge line. Barn owls don't hoot but make a long harsh screech that lasts about 2 seconds. All very atmospheric on a cold dark night.
The resident pair of Tawny owls can be heard duetting. As children we would impersonate the owl with a twit twoooooo, however when you listen carefully, you can hear the male owl hooting a low 'huhuhuhooooo' sound and the female responding with a high pitched 'keewik.'
This year I have designed my own Christmas cards that will be available in my shop soon. My card features an enchanting barn owl flying in front of a big golden November full moon. In Matt Sewell's charming book, listed below, he describes the barn owl as completely magical and otherworldly in his gold, silver and white, shimmering silently through the dark night like a royal ghost.
A - Adaptation
November represents a changeover, nature shows us how to adapt and acclimatise to the seasonal changes. A time to prepare for a drop in temperature, when we will see the first frosts and in some parts of the country, snow. As nature alters and adjusts, it's a reminder that we can do the same. a reminder to slow down. Staying connected to nature doesn't necessarily mean being outside, but as an alternative, to observe it from a window, keeping a diary of observations. Doing this has shown to lower stress levels and aid relaxation. I have a wonderful book written and illustrated by John Muir laws, The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling. Sketching observations and researching what I've seen is a great stress buster. I love using a variety of art tools to record what I've seen, using graphite and watercolour pencils, ink pens and a splash of watercolour.
T - Trees
The November gales and rain showers help to clear the leaves from the tree tops and with this comes a great opportunity to see the birds. I have my binoculars and camera at the ready to be able to indulge in some spontaneous birdwatching. Always eager to catch a glimpse of Tree Creepers, Nuthatches and The Greater Spotted Woodpeckers. Great observations to include in a nature journal or reference photos for artwork.
The lack of leaves not only leave the birds exposed, but also the beautiful patterns on the trees. the texture of the bark and the little hidden holes and crevices of its inhabitants. I have drawn a section of bark before, using an ink pen and then painted a wash of watercolour over the top, it was quite effective. The beautiful oak trees in the the woods have thick craggy bark which is wonderful to run a hand over the top. The squirrel peering down from his home above. Often mushrooms are growing below at the base and the tiny bugs are snug in the cracks of the bark. Another world with its own busy eco system.
U - Undercover
The fallen leaves cover many of the plants in the garden borders. There are few signs of growth in November, although mushrooms can still be spotted. The Shaggy Ink Cap is thriving in our garden. The toad house has been exposed after being hidden all summer under a beech hedge, but inside there are plenty of dry leaves for the toads and frogs to hibernate, making sure the floor is bare so the amphibians have access to the damp soil below. I have bug houses out over winter for any hibernating critters that need to take shelter and try not to be to tidy with my pots, garden ornaments and bamboo canes, as I often find wood lice and other creatures taking shelter underneath. I like to follow their lead and go undercover with extra blankets on the bed and a cosy throw on the sofas, but no laying on damp earth for me!
R - Relaxation, Reflection & Restore
Shorter days and less sunshine bring the drop in temperature and heavy rain. Fog and misty mornings are characteristic of November. Rain admittedly isn't much fun when you have to go out, especially dog walking, but there's nothing more cosy than laying in bed for a little longer, guilt free, listening to the wind and the rain against the window panes. Rain forces us to stop and choose activities indoors. I love to make homemade vegetable soup and bread. November gives me some time to start baking again, with stir up Sunday falling on the 20th of November this year.
I like to use this time to think about what I am going to grow next year in my vegetable beds and to look through various seed catalogues. Charles Dowding has provided me with a wealth of knowledge on when to grow and how. I adopted his 'no dig' gardening and growing techniques, thanks to a friend's enthusiasm for the 'no dig' approach. I always get a copy of his calendar which gives excellent prompts for when to sow seeds. Charles Dowding shares a wealth of knowledge on his website and has written many books on the subject.
This time of year is a good opportunity to re-establish indoor habits like reading, listening to music and cooking. It releases the happy hormones and raises our vibration, after all we are all energy and it's important to keep our energy levels up and it's contagious to those around you.
E - Emigrate
There are roughly 50 species of birds that leave Britain and head southwards to spend the winter in a warmer and gentler climate. At the same time Britain has many bird visitors arriving on our shores. Many species that include geese, swans and ducks. From Northern Europe species such as Redwing and Fieldfare head here for their winter holidays. Redwings are similar in appearance to the song thrush and mistle thrush. The fieldfare is another thrush which are larger than redwings. Both species arrive here from October onwards to feast on the abundance of berries before heading home in March. Whilst out walking last week I noticed flocks of fieldfare in the trees and hedgerows, chattering and flitting about in quite a large group. I wasn't aware of these birds until I saw some lovely artwork by artist, Sarah Addy. Alongside her lovely painting she explained about these wonderful birds, that fly over to Britain in their droves. Sarah Addy Art can be found on Instagram, where you can see her painting of a fieldfare and many other paintings inspired by nature. Sarah has a shop on Etsy and Redbubble.
As for the redwing, they can also be spotted in your garden during the autumn months. They are often mistaken for a thrush, but if you look carefully there is a dash of red under the wing area. They are especially fond of the holly berries. I am still to spot these, but over the course of the next few months I may get to see them.
During November, although spending more time indoors, there are still many ways to connect with nature. Whether it's listening out for the calls of the owls, stargazing, bird watching, journaling or just practising some self care. November raises the question of how are you spending your precious time? A month of remembrance, prompting us to enjoy life to the maximum and to do what we love. Make time for yourself, a time to remember, reflect and transform, just like nature.
"Wind warns November's done with.
The blown leaves make bat-shapes,
Web-winged and furious."
Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
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I value all of your comments and would love to hear how you like to spend your time in November. I read and reply to them all. You can also contact me through my website.
Sending love & light,
Stay naturally curious...
Website & newsletter recommendation:
From Field & Forrest, An artist's year in paint and pen by Anna Koska
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden
Our Garden Birds, a bird for every week of the year by Matt Sewell
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