November in the desert is a study of opposites. The skies have gone quiet, awaiting the arrival of winter migrants. The sun still shines warmly yet the wind blows cold, laced with the sweet smell of decay. Night come early and lingers well into the next day, and even though I am a morning person, I find myself slumbering longer and longer under heavy blankets.
The chickens are up with the sun when she shows her face, and demanding squawks eventually pull me out of bed and into the garden. The cold is quickly dissipating under the sun’s loving stare; even though I can see my breath in puffs, my rumpled hair is warmed by sunshine as I feed the birds and release them from the coop into the yard.The air is perfumed with the aroma of the growing and the dying. I appraise the winter lettuce,whose green fingers tentatively reach upwards from the deep black earth. The fig and peach trees shed their leaves like a papery dress, yet the carrots extend tender young greens upward and wave a feathery “hi!”
Even in Tucson, winter gardens can be a bit of a gamble. With hardly a warning the long night could decide to push the temperature below freezing and irreparably damage the brave young plants that dare to grow in the coldest, darkest months. The eggplant has already taken a hit, and its only mid-November. But we are fearless beings, the veggies and I, and seek the light wherever we can find it.
The warm sun, the cool breeze, the sweetness of the earth, the cackle of the chickens are intoxicating, but the afternoon pulls me indoors. Today has seen temperatures well into the 70’s, but deeper instincts of the dying light and coming cold cause me to seek shelter. Home yields its own delights; before long the kitchen smells a curious combination of burned sage, the yogi tea bubbling on the stove, the yeasty sweetness of bread in the oven.
It is fall. We grow upward, we turn inward We shiver through the night and bask in yellow sunshine during the day.
May you find your own sweet balance between the light and the dark.