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November Transition

November 4, 2014

In Maine, November is the month of transition from fall to winter. This year, the transition seems to be more dramatic than usual. I awoke on November 1 to find some flowers still in bloom – not in the garden proper, but in a container planting on the deck. I cannot remember ever before having flowers last into November.

November geranium november osteospermum

But then November 2 brought a major snowstorm to much of the state, unusually early for snow here. Some areas in eastern Maine got more than a foot of heavy, wet snow, bringing down power lines. As of this evening, two days after the storm, more than 50,000 electric customers were still without power and several towns had scrambled to set up alternatives for polling places that were without power.  I was very lucky to be on the western fringe of this storm; we had mostly rain, with a few snowflakes mixing in from time to time but no snow accumulation. I’m just not ready for snow yet.

In general, November in Maine is nothing to cheer about. It is, on average, the rainiest month of the year here. And this rain generally falls when temperatures are in the thirties, making it raw as well as wet. Sometimes the wind-driven rain feels like it is verging on icy needles of sleet.

I think the whole point of November in Maine is to prepare us psychologically for winter. At the beginning of November, we don’t feel ready for winter. But November is dreary, and when the temperatures dip low enough for the precipitation to fall as snow instead of rain in late November or early December, we will greet the snow with pleasure. After weeks of  hunkering down indoors against the cold, raw, wet weather of November, snow brings a lightness that encourages us to get out and play.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2014 10:50 pm

    There’s something to be said for easing into a climate change like that, for plants if not also for people. The weather in southern California is less predictable. Our nighttime temperatures are consistently cooler but the daytime temperatures are in the 60s one day and the 80s a day or 2 later. Tomorrow’s forecast in LA is 88F. I think the plants are confused.

    • November 10, 2014 7:26 pm

      Kris, I was fascinated by this observation, because southern California weather is generally regarded as much more predictable than New England weather. Mark Twain was describing New England weather when he famously quipped, “If you don’t like [it]…, just wait a few minutes.” And no New England newspaper could ever print the same weather forecast day after day without changing the type (You know, “Low clouds and early morning fog along the coast. Clearing by midday.”) But despite all the (in)famous variability of New England weather, there are some things that can pretty much be counted on. One of them is that November will be dreary.

  2. November 5, 2014 7:19 am

    I think you pegged the meaning of November in New England. 🙂

    • November 10, 2014 7:27 pm

      But if it snows on Friday, I will not yet be sufficiently steeped in wet November misery to welcome it. 😉

  3. November 5, 2014 9:18 pm

    Hi Jean! I haven’t been good with keeping up with blogging. I just saw a comment you left on another blog, and wanted to pay you a visit. Hey, we may have first met on a different gardening forum I had forgotten about, where Freda Cameron and Nell Jean got us blogging. Anyway, I enjoyed reading about your November so far. It’s been warm in SE Nebraska, but that’s supposed to change in the next week.

  4. November 5, 2014 9:20 pm

    Are you on Facebook? Look me up if you are, if you remember me.

    • November 10, 2014 7:30 pm

      Sue, I do remember you from the halcyon days at Blotanical; it’s great to hear from you. I just joined Facebook recently (in order to help out with my 50th high school reunion), but I haven’t done much with it yet.

  5. November 6, 2014 12:25 pm

    It is pretty dreary here, too, Jean – just seems so dark. Some of my old friends in Maine did get that foot of snow and were without power – yikes! I feel bad as I am cutting down flowers in bloom(!) out in my Potager but I really must get the beds put to bed. Well, I hope that snow stays East of you until December!

    • November 10, 2014 7:34 pm

      Kathy, It went down into the mid-twenties here last night, so I think my container flowers on the deck may have finally succumbed. If not, they definitely will not make it through the big chill that is predicted for later this week. I’m hoping we’ll dodge most of the snow that is currently plaguing the upper midwest.
      Because I’m a morning person, it actually feels less dark to me with the switch back to standard time; it’s so nice to wake up to light before 7 a.m. I hope the current snowstorm misses you, too.

  6. November 7, 2014 3:56 am

    Wow Jean, you seem to be driving headlong into the winter season. We only just got our first light frost yesterday but today seems as though it’s going to turn out sunny with clear-ish skies. I expect it will start getting grey and rainy and much colder soon. I’m certainly not ready yet for those grey days and long dark nights.

    • November 10, 2014 7:36 pm

      Sunil, Winter comes early and stays late here. Fortunately, we don’t have as much dark as you do (because we’re at a more southerly latitude), and winter is actually a pretty sunny season here in Maine.

  7. November 7, 2014 7:28 pm

    Glad to hear that the snowstorm did not hit your area…I also have been in awe of the flowers still blooming in November but we have not had a killing frost yet.

    • November 10, 2014 7:38 pm

      Donna, Are you bracing yourself for the weather that seems to be heading our way? Over a foot of what looked like heavy, wet snow in Minneapolis; I’m not ready for that yet!

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