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Where's November?


This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but November is here, and something’s just not right. There’s no wood smoke in the air, for one thing. And the trees haven’t had enough water to even change color before they fall. And as for the temperature, it may be in the 70s today, but just two days ago we were on the last of a string of days in the 80s. And it’s November, for heaven’s sake. Where do we think we are, Mississippi? This is supposed to be the Upper South. November 4th in the upper south, in case you don’t know it, is supposed to be cold. Not very cold, and not every day, but we’re 13 days now past the average fall frost date, and the best we’ve been able to do for a low is 42, not 32. Now I know it’s no use calling in the law of averages here. In fact I once won a debate in high school (a long time ago) after my opponent used the law of averages one too many times and I asked him if, hypothetically of course, if a man had one foot on a hot stove and the other on a cake of ice, would he, on the average, be comfortable?

But still — this is just too much. I realize I can on occasion, be accused of being old and cranky. But we in the Ozarks should, by all rights, be at that portion of the year right between lamenting the last of the garden fare for this year and eagerly anticipating next year’s seed catalog. Instead, I’m being annoyed by persistent green beans and cherry tomatoes that just won’t quit, and a forest of late dill weeds, of all things. At least the strawberries have stopped, mostly because I stopped watering them. But imagine, being tired of strawberries.

Well, let’s face it. If we’re accustomed to living and growing a garden in this latitude, a good deal of a person’s passion for gardening has to do with anticipation. Just like waiting for ketchup, we wait for the next thing to do, the next chore, the next planting, the next miniscule turn of the seasons that says, “Hey, it’s too cold to work outside today, so I think I’ll sharpen some tools, or oil some tool handles, or organize all the long handled things that hang on the garage wall, or maybe mix up a batch of that seed-meal fertilizer I like so well. And on the next chilly but sunny day with not much of a breeze, I might go out and burn off the south end of the garden where nothing got planted and the weeds took it. Or maybe I’ll cut back the brambles a bit, or … well, you see that’s how it ought to be. But I’ve been looking for November chores in September weather. That’s just not right.

On the other hand, though, I have to admit, one of the most deep and lasting lessons these hard old hills can teach a person is patience. And I’ll be the first to admit I could use some. Only trouble is, I want it right now! My grandmother and I used to try each other sorely whenever I’d think we should be doing something right now, and she’d say patience, child. We’ll get to that directly. Now what kind of measurement of time is directly? Well I’ll tell you. Sometimes it’s a few minutes, sometimes a few hours. Sometimes by the time we got to it I’d forget what I’d asked for. I’m pretty sure she did that on purpose. But I guess that’s the way of the seasons this year. This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozark Hills, reminding you while I remind myself, that winter IS on its way, even if it has gotten itself distracted a bit. It reminds me of that old song from my grandmother’s day, the one that goes O Dear, what can the matter be, Johnny’s so long at the fair. Like Johnny at the fair, I guess our November weather has gotten hung up somewhere, delayed by maybe a lame horse, or a broken axle on the wagon, or some dalliance with a gypsy or hawker or sideshow. As my grandmother would say, “Patience child. It’ll be along, directly”.