At Winter's Gate: In November by Cynthia Rylant
In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures.
The majestic turning of the seasons, especially the joyous resurrection of spring, has always inspired poets and philosophers. But in the northern latitudes, as the year grows old, there is a quiet beauty in earth's paring-down preparations for its second solstice, the fullness of its fallow season. This crux of the cycle, the pause before deep winter, is the subject of Cynthia Rylant's emerging classic In November (Voyager, 2008).
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.
The staying birds are serious, too, for cold times lie ahead. Hard times. All berries will be treasures.
Animals sleep together, conserving their precious warmth, and humans, too, find comfort in hearth and home.
In November, people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other's homes....and give thanks for their many blessings--for the food on their tables and the babies in their arms.
Rylant's poetic prose and Jill Kastner's soft and sweet oil paintings flow together into a moving paean to that month in which all nature seems to slow down, take a deep breath and turn inward for a bit, a laid-back time to enjoy what we have with each other. Although illustrations show a family sharing the feast, the text never mentions the actual celebration of Thanksgiving, but this brief book draws upon the wellspring of that emotion--a great book to read, aloud or silently, during that mellow time.
In November, at winter's gate... the sun is a sometimes friend. And the world has tucked her children in, with a kiss on their heads, till spring.