November Frost in Nova Scotia (© Magi Nams)

November nears its end, its days in 2011 never to be repeated. The penultimate month of the year brought us storms and glorious sunshine, frosts, and balmy temperatures that were treats to Bluenosers and Come-From-Aways licking up the riches of an extended Indian summer.

This morning, I ran over sparkling ground, with frost thick and hard and scintillating on roadside grasses and shrubs. Geometric planes of ice coated puddles on our gravel access road, the plates melded at their edges like sections of a stained-glass window. Cold, invigorating air held the icy essence I so longed for on my runs in tropical Australia last year.

Yet, our Nova Scotia air was still and quiet in comparison with the rowdy soundscape of tropical Australia. I heard only an American goldfinch voicing its questioning ‘see-ee?’ and the buzzy chirps of foraging black-capped chickadees. No raucous rainbow lorikeets resplendent in jewelled feathers of blue, green, red, orange, and yellow. No majestic red-tailed black-cockatoos winging and trumpeting overhead, their deep calls edged with parrot vibrato. No laughing kookaburras sounding like demented maniacs let loose to shake dawn awake and cast it from its night mooring across to the realm of day. On my return to my house, I filled our frost-furred bird feeder in hopes of luring more avian life to my late autumn yard.

I say late autumn, but the first winter snowstorm blasted Nova Scotia last Wednesday, dumping thirty centimetres of the white stuff onto our yard and closing schools for two days. In the midst of my Writers In The Schools visit to Pictou Elementary, the kids were suddenly dismissed. I drove home through increasingly heavy snow, crept past ditched cars, and offered a ride to a stranded driver. Needless to say, I was thankful Vilis had switched our Echo’s all-season tires to studded tires the day before the storm. Winter in Nova Scotia is a perpetual road dance with the ice devil.

November flew by as I tangoed with writing. I experienced the seduction of receiving praise from Sophia Knightly regarding the first four chapters of my novel A Look Across the Sand, and the intensity of revising my travel journal Cry of the Kiwi: A Family’s New Zealand Adventure. Add to that the heady inspiration of conducting writing workshops for children and the spicy newness of writing book reviews for fellow Nova Scotia authors Bev Pettersen (Color My Horse – romance and danger in the world of thoroughbred racing; and Jennie Marsland (Shattered – finding love in the midst of war and the Halifax Explosion;

Unfortunately, this writing tango was one I danced primarily indoors and seated in an office chair. Only my morning runs and an occasional brisk afternoon walk took me out into nature. However, today, I’ll gather balsam fir boughs to fill planters as Christmas decorations for our porch. I’ll also carry my camera in hopes of capturing elusive autumn wildlife. Perhaps I’ll see a white-tailed deer bounding from meadows into parkland or forest. Or a goshawk skimming like a shadow along the edge of a woodland. Or a raven soaring high overhead, its harsh voice spilling wildness onto the earth. Then it’s back to my novel and the tango.

Elusive Autumn Wildlife – Male Ruffed Grouse in Dense Cover (© Magi Nams)

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