November is not Iowa’s best month.
Maybe that’s why our small state has never been a destination location in late fall, except for the fourth Thursday of the month when people come back in droves for an indoor frenzy of food and football. Considering Iowa’s landscape this time of year, who can blame our inhabitants and visitors for eating themselves into a stupor and yelling at a bunch of goofy guys in helmets running around on TV?
True, the temperatures have been mild for November and the winds calm. But the cloudy gray skies, the bare, gray tree limbs, and the feeble, ineffective hours of daylight make for poor eye candy during my daily walks. In fact the scenery is so glum, it takes all the discipline I can muster and an Evelyn Lundberg Counseling Agency pep talk to force me out the door.
This past Saturday was no exception. In addition to the normal gloom, a thick fog settled over our area. No need to become road kill this close to the holidays, I thought, and delayed my walk until mid-morning. Even then, the mist hadn’t completely dissipated. Everything around me was gray and shades of gray, at ten in the morning no less.
And then I walked behind our community college. The campus was quiet and empty for the weekend, except for a row of wet and shivering crab apple trees between the parking lot and the buildings. The naked branches were loaded with fruit, crying as the blanket of fog lifted and left them exposed and red and lovely.
What other beauty is hidden in the fog, beauty I miss by concentrating on dreariness and gloom? What bright colors have I missed, driven indoors by gray skies and weak sun?
Instead of waiting for the fog to lift, perhaps I should walk into it and find joy in unexpected places, in every season of the year.