November by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1I love the first few days of November. The weather is cool and crisp, there are more leaves off the trees than on, and we still have a few more weeks until the bustle of the holidays gets into full swing. For me this is a time of reflection, or maybe it would be more accurate to say “nostalgia.” There is just something about autumn that takes me back to my childhood, and also into myself. The bare branches of the trees, piles of leaves on front lawns, and the smell of smoke in the air sends my mind on a journey that at times I wish the rest of me could follow.

My siblings and I would rake the leaves that had fallen from our huge maple tree and then jump into the piles. I’d walk back on our farm, toward the creekimages or pond, wading through tall, brown grass, maybe flushing out a pheasant or two along the way. There would be high school football games, and hayrides, and we always participated in autumn school and Community Theater productions. Life was good and childhood would never end.

While I still enjoy many fall activities, including hayrides and corn mazes, it isn’t the same. Leaves are to be raked and bagged, not jumped into with abandon. Walks include a fit bit or pedometer because I need to get more steps in. I enjoy the last of the flowers but then I remind myself that I need to weed and clean up the yard before too long.

So I long to go back to a simpler time of sweaters and mittens, and fun and laughter. Until I remember the whole truth. Yes, there is an innocence and joy that comes with childhood but there were also chores and responsibilities, tests and homework. And algebra. Life was never as simple or fun as it is through the lens of nostalgia.

Instead of going back, I try to look back with honesty and forgiveness – mostly forgiving myself for being such a clueless kid. But in looking back, I can see how far I’ve come, the obstacles I’940320-bigthumbnailve defeated, the ones I didn’t, and how they’ve all changed me for the better.

Still, you can’t look back too long so instead I use my foray into my memories to ground me in the present and prepare me for today, tomorrow, and whatever else is to come. I have a new, challenging job, a wonderful husband whom I married in November fourteen years ago, and a daughter who is living what will someday be her own childhood memories. I hope she has joyful events to reflect on when she is my age, like hayrides and pumpkin carving and the time we had a picnic on the porch roof, but this is in her hands, not mine.

The leaves have turned, the warm blankets are on the bed, the woodpile is stocked, and I’m ready for my memories and my future. Happy Autumn.

You can learn more about me at:

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17 thoughts on “November by Erin Farwell

  1. I’ll be busy this month. I’m doing Robert Lee Brewer’s poem-a-day challenge on his Poetic Asides blog every day plus preparing for two readings and a signing to promote my new book, That’s Life. Happy November.


  2. Sounds like a fun mental journey you are on Erin! I enjoyed taking it with you. Fall smells bring back my memories too, like the old coal stove in our country school when I smell fireplaces, harvesting when I smell the smoke of fields being burned off in the rural area I am in now while packing up my sister’s stuff for storage, and added memories as I sort through all the cards, bills, newspaper articles, genealogy stuff my sister has kept for her 84 years, not my usual fall activity! Sounds like you are providing your daughter with some wonderful fall memories, I’m especially intrigued with the idea of a picnic on the porch!


    1. Thanks, Neva. My husband was installing an antenna on the roof of the house and Willow and I were on the porch roof (very gentle slope) helping him. She was about 4. Anyway, I had dinner ready, Mike was still on the roof and she asked if we could eat dinner out there. My first thought was no but then I thought – why not? So we fixed our plates, climbed through a bedroom window and had dinner on the roof. 🙂


  3. As I get older (and I am on the cusp of turning 63), I find myself more and more looking back at my past including those childhood times. Alzheimer’s and other senility-type diseases are insidious, they rob us of our memories. Since I joined FB back in 2009, I’ve followed a couple of Facebookers who have chronicled their lives as caregivers for mothers and fathers with Alzheimer’s. A roommate once told me, “Mom asked me if I was her daughter.”


  4. Lovely post, Erin, and I enjoyed the photos you used to capture each sentiment. I, too, love autumn, and this one was especially lovely in my neck of the woods; you may recall my photos of last October with 8 to 16 inches of snow breaking tree branches and making our town a complete ugly mess — so glad that didn’t happen! Today (Nov. 3) we received a tiny trace of snow but now the sun is out again and the temps are to be in the 50s all week — sweater weather yes, parkas not yet! November is off to a great start in Casper, too! ENJOY!!


  5. Lovely post.
    I, too, have similar memories of fall in MI. The season changes weren’t as definite in southern Cal when I was a kid, but are more obvious in northern Cal. The biggest thing is the coming of the rains (most years. Have been in a drought for the last three). So we tend to alternate between bright, brisk outdoor days and overcast, rainy indoor days.
    (Let’s see if this goes through this time. I’m traveling and the internet is wonky)


  6. What a beautiful reflective post, Erin. it’s getting colder here and the leaves have almost all been shed but in my climate we never know when it’s going to turn to snow. Those mittens and scarves are going to be have to be looked out and ready in our house too. Enjoy your November.


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