The November Light

I don't remember if I've noticed this in years past. Or if I subconsciously noticed but never put words to it. Maybe it's the bank of windows along the front our house which, over the last year, have allowed me to watch the seasons in a way I've never experienced before.

But the November light is different.

November sun through trees

It was grey all last week. Grey clouds, sometimes light, sometimes heavy and foreboding, mist curling from the river, filling our picture window. A low looming mountain of dark trees rising from the valley floor.

light in kitchen

Mid afternoon the sun would sometimes break through, shortly before setting behind the mountain at the almost-eerie early hour of 3 o'clock, its white light briefly pouring through the kitchen.

november trees sketch
Laurent Tougas, age: 10

The trees stand naked and the oranges of autumn are now sodden brown underfoot. Without the warmth of the leaves the light lacks fortitude. It feels watery and diffuse.

The word gloaming was made for November.

Last week hiking in our woods was not safe. It was the frenzied climax of the big-game hunting season. We didn't see too many dead deer leaving our woods but we saw a lot of big trucks and quads, driven by camo-dressed men, on our roads.

driftwood

The rental chalets of our neighborhood, usually quiet, hosted hopeful hunters instead of the ski bums that will be arriving in a couple months.

beach grasses

To stay safe, for our Sunday hike we decided to take a drive to some unexplored places along the bay. We don't usually visit the ocean on our Sunday excursions, but this was the right day for it.

beach

We had no idea where we were going but there are a lot of places, in our backyard along the coast, we have not explored. So we picked one of the those communities and followed its back bumpy roads till we serendipitously found a trail, in a quiet provincial park, running along the cliffs.

November sun through trees

setting sun in cedars

setting sun in cedars

And I found the warm light again, illuminating waving grasses by the sea, and clusters of Mountain Ash berries in the woods nearby.

November setting sun on water

A November fireball setting fast, it's reflection orange on the water, red on cedar boughs.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

« (the ultimate) Healthy Homemaker Series ~ the heart of the matter
American Girl Dolls, A Making Season & More »
  • Alaina

    Alaina on Nov. 11, 2013, 6:58 p.m.

    Beautiful!  Our November light looks like December due to lots of snow!  We went hiking this weekend and we could have used snowshoes in some spots.  

    Speaking of dangerous hiking- I had a question for you- what, if anything, do you bring in case of a bear issue while hiking?  We only have black bears, and I only rarely see them and they always flee and don't even care about me, but I constantly, and I mean constantly, get comments from others about hiking and how dangerous it is and how they would never bring their kids into the woods, that my little ones might get taken by a bear etc!!!  I never really know what to say.  These people actually don't go on trails because of bear fears!  I feel so sad for them.  I am not that scared, although it is a tiny concern in the back of my mind, you know, same level of concern I have driving on a highway...and having seen lots of bears (mostly we just see the poop) and never having an issue and knowing to make lots of noise, etc but maybe I SHOULD be bringing bear spray or something just in case there ever was a dangerous bear, I don't know.  We rarely see any wildlife at all due to being noisy with talking.  I don't really know what the current protocol is for what to bring in case of dangerous wildlife.  Do you have any thoughts on this?  

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Nov. 11, 2013, 7:49 p.m.

      Alaina - we got snow today! There are black bears where we live but we've never seen them. They are more prevalent at the tip of the Peninsula. Black bears do not scare me (easy to say when you've never encountered one in the wild). Grizzlies and mountain lions on the other hand frighten me. But that is a distant fear since we don't live in the west where those animals are found (there are rumors of mountain lions in our mountains). 

      Damien published our thoughts and those of an experienced western living outdoorsman on wild animals at Outsideways. We do not, in the east, take wild animal precautions, other than bear bagging and hanging our food at night. In the west we always hike with bear spray. And if we were in grizzly country we would take extra tenting precautions. 

      I believe people's quote on quote fear of wild animals is often an excuse and mostly unfounded. We live in fear culture. Every bad bear story in the news will be shared. Every happy hiking trip with a family (which far outweigh the bad bear stories) will be ignored. 

      Like you say, we rarely see wildlife because we're so noisy. When I go walking by myself is when I see the most wildlife. Coming up on deer is always a special treat, something that never happens when I'm with my chatty kids (smile).

      reply

      • Alaina

        Alaina on Nov. 12, 2013, 2:08 a.m.

        Well the one time I saw a black bear by myself it came within a few feet of me and I didn't notice- I looked up thinking it was a dog (it sounds like a pig, actually) and there it was...a small bear.  I turned and ran...I know, stupid reaction... I know better than that!  The bear didn't even care...although it could have chased me I'm sure.  This summer there was a bear, and we all saw it, but my one child panicked (not sure why, we were calm on the outside and have tried to teach them what to do) she screamed so much about it that I think that must have scared the bear eventually.  The other bears have all been when I am with a larger group of people or in a car.  I never saw a grizzly or a mountain lion out west, or a black bear while hiking out west.  

        I agree, people make a big deal over bad things that happen but never comment on the good....it is that way with everything. While getting ready to go hiking, a child (neighbour) asked us where we were going, and we said hiking. To which she replied, "what is hiking"? (she is old enough to know, I think its just not part of her world). We told her that it is like going for a walk in the woods.  To which she replied, "why would you do that, there are mean animals in the woods!"  She probably has never even been in the woods...someone has taught her to fear it.  So sad.  

        What are the extra tenting precautions you would take out west?  Its funny I never thought about animals when I was hiking in grizzly or mountain lion territory other than hanging my food (this was before kids).  I never even took bear spray.  Having kids does make me somewhat more fearful of the animals.  However there is no way I would avoid it just because of that.  

         

        reply

        • Lisa S

          Lisa S on Nov. 12, 2013, 6:14 p.m.

          I hope you don't mind my jumping in here.  I've tent camped in the northern Rockies (MT, WY,ID) a lot.  It is always in grizzly habitat.   The main thing is to not keep anything in your tent that has odor.  So all food, toiletries, etc. have to be hung.  Everything!  The other thing to think about is where you cook.  It needs to be a good distance from where your tent is pitched.  Also, you might need to consider if you should change your clothes after you've finished cooking.  The main thing is to not have cooking smells on you or your tent.  Mostly just be aware of what smells there are and any being created.  Bears have extremely sensitive noses.

          We've never carried bear spray during our hikes. I think it isn't a bad idea, but I worry that people put too much reliance on it and slack off on the other good practices of being in bear country. Make noise.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Be willing to change your plans.  And know what to do if you should meet a bear.  Bear attacks get a lot of press, so it's easy to believe they are more common than they actually are.  The most nervous I've ever been on a hike was coming across a huge bull moose on our trail. It was a very unexpected place to see one.  We decided the rule about not cutting switchbacks did not apply in this instance!

           

          reply

          • renee

            renee on Nov. 12, 2013, 8:04 p.m.

            Lisa S. Thank you for your input. I really appreciate it. 

            reply

          • Alaina

            Alaina on Nov. 12, 2013, 8:37 p.m.

            Thanks, I appreciate this reply too!  I have hiked in grizzly habitat but that was years ago and although I hung food, I could have been more careful with odors and also with some other safety things.  Having kids has made me think more, and with more experience over the years, I have learned more.  Thank you!

            reply

        • renee

          renee on Nov. 12, 2013, 8:26 p.m.

          Alaina, we have friends who do serious trekking in Alaska - months at a time with toddlers in the wilderness, they use an electric wire (battery operated or something) for their tent at night. (as well as food precautions) But those are serious precautions for serious backcountry folk. But some people might simply appreciate the piece of mind that brings when being in wild areas with young children.

          reply

          • Alaina

            Alaina on Nov. 12, 2013, 8:40 p.m.

            This is very interesting, I never would have thought of that.  At this point I am not doing anything that serious, but good to know about and keep in mind.  I love to learn and file things away for later or to help with others. THanks!

            reply

      • Sarah

        Sarah on Nov. 12, 2013, 3:57 a.m.

        I'm curious about the tenting precautions, too. I mostly backpack/camp in the summers in Ontario, so bears aren't much of a problem there. Here in the west I use a bear bin (rather than hanging a bear pack, which is mostly to keep raccoons and squirrels out), but that's really the only precaution I use. In the last month I got approval to solo the John Muir Trail next fall (whoopie!) and I'm surprised I got no animal questions from my parents. I think that my parents are thinking like I am--the most dangerous aspects are things like tripping and breaking something or an unexpected snowstorm. Most of my precautions will be around those things (learning more about dealing with inclement weather, getting my WFR next spring, and bringing some kind of SPOT/beacon/satellite phone). 

        reply

        • Brynn

          Brynn on Nov. 12, 2013, 10:01 p.m.

          The panic button on the SPOT is WAY, WAY too easily accessible.  Hiking the PCT last year (including the JMT) , I know multiple people who didn't realize they had hit the button until the helicopters where hovering overhead.  It does have a 10 second hold time to activate, but many had the issue when they were sitting to rest with the SPOT hanging on their pack and getting pressed, or in their pocket and getting pressed.  It was major money for the one lady who did not pay for the rescue insurance.  It was also a fairly large hassle for those who had to explain to panicked family that nothing was really wrong.  There are other trackers, which might be great, but more than a few of our fellow hikers had issues with that stupid button on the SPOT.

          reply

          • Sarah

            Sarah on Nov. 13, 2013, 12:32 a.m.

            Wow! Thank you, Brynn. That is really helpful! I do NOT want to accidentally have a rescue team come! I don't really want to have a phone on me, but maybe a satellite phone is the best option? It's still almost a year away, but I'll do some more investigating. It's definitely a non-negotioable with my parents. Thanks again!

            reply

  • Dianna

    Dianna on Nov. 11, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

    I am so glad that you put words to this November light.  Your pictures from yesterday are absolutely stunning.  I could sit and drink them in for a long long time.  Would you mind if I were to use one or two of them strictly as my computer background?

    reply

    • renee

      renee on Nov. 11, 2013, 9:28 p.m.

      Dianna,

      These photos are from last Sunday. Yesterday we hiked in the mountains and this was our view (smile).

      You are welcome to grab any photo you like for your desktop. My own desktop is a constant stream of my own photography (updated every 5 minutes or so with one of my favorites I keep in a special file for that purpose).

      If you want one of these in a larger size, just let me know.

      reply

  • patricia

    patricia on Nov. 12, 2013, 4:06 a.m.

    You captured that magnificent light beautifully in your photos, Renee. The one of the grasses with the water and that beautiful bokeh in the background is just gorgeous!

    reply

  • Michelle

    Michelle on Nov. 12, 2013, 10:06 p.m.

    Hunting season in our woods too. Renee, there is no hunting allowed on Sundays in Canada, just so you know. I still wouldn't feel safe walking the woods then either. We have only heard a few gunshots and have yet to see a hunter. Only a few more weeks and we are all safe, deer included. :)

     

    reply

    • Alaina

      Alaina on Nov. 14, 2013, 3:35 p.m.

      Actually, there is Sunday hunting permitted in many places, it depends on the municipality.  Also, I do wonder if there are exceptions for Native Canadians as they have exceptions with some of the other rules.  

       

      reply

      • renee

        renee on Nov. 14, 2013, 6:38 p.m.

        absolutely there are exceptions for Native Cdns (I don't know all of them) but our friends were hunting with aboriginals, we have a Micmac (sp?) reserve in our community, on Sunday a couple weeks ago. We just assume during hunting season that people are out and about with guns and weapons and we just play it safe. We see it so much more hunting here than we did living in Maine. 

        reply

You can subscribe to comments on this article using this form.

If you have already commented on this article, you do not need to do this, as you were automatically subscribed.