Over the last couple of days I’ve stitched the wordplay to go opposite the flower page for November in my Anthea SAL book. The SAL is organised by Faby Reilly and her designs are beautiful. This was the penultimate month of this SAL and the flower was the Chinese Lantern, or physalis, which has unusual round flowers which become like skeleton leaves as they age.
It does vary how easy or hard it is to think of words for a particular month, I was surprised to have more than enough ideas for November especially as we haven’t really done anything! Dates I didn’t have room for include Mischief Night on 4th November, this is more of a northern England thing I think where kids play pranks like knocking on doors and running away, it seems to have been superceded by trick and treat for Halloween. The last Sunday before Advent is called Stir-up Sunday, It got its name from the beginning of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer, which begins with the words, “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”. This was taken as a sign or a reminder that it’s time to make the Christmas cake and pudding as both need to mature for several weeks. My cake is now made and decorated with a simple stencilled top and a few stars.
Bonfire Night is on 5th November when we celebrate Guy Fawkes getting caught before he blew up the houses of parliament. Guy Fawkes was a local man, living at Farnley Hall just across the river, the head of the family there is always called Guy Fawkes, we had a talk from him a couple of years ago with WI. From what I recall it is part of the deal that if you want to inherit Farnley Hall you take the name of Guy Fawkes. As a twist to the story, when I was researching my family tree, I found the Bickerdikes (my maiden name) of Low Hall who were recusants back in the days of Henry VIII, so they refused to denounce their Catholic faith and suffered greatly for it. It is said in the folklore of that branch of the family that Guy Fawkes plotted the foiled plan on the kitchen table of Low Hall, though I’ve never found anything to corroborate the story! I’m not a great lover of fireworks, but I do like sparklers. I like watching fireworks from the safety of indoors! Having said that, someone who lives further up the Chevin has a huge professional firework display most years as a private party which the rest of the town enjoys. One year it was in the summer, I sat outside on a warm evening with a glass of wine, thinking this is the way to watch fireworks, never mind the freezing cold nights in November!
This year Remembrance parades were all cancelled and the laying of wreaths at cenotaphs across the country was a quiet socially distanced affair, it seemed to make it all the more poignant.
I saw a goldcrest in the garden in November, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen one so it was quite exciting. They are one of Britains smallest birds alongside their rarer cousin the firecrest.
We went for a couple of muddy walks this month, many fields are getting waterlogged so we end up doing big detours round a field to try and find somewhere reasonable to cross. I always think of mist and fog when I think of November, we haven’t had much fog this time but a lot of misty mornings.
Schizostylis is the Latin name for kaffir lily, it’s a very pretty flower which looks far too delicate to flower in November, but it’s flowering it’s socks off in my garden at the moment!
It’s the first Sunday in Advent at the end of November, we always have an Advent ring which has four candles on a foliage wreath, the idea being that you light a candle on the first Sunday, then two on the second Sunday etc etc. In the past I’ve used an oasis ring as a base, which works really well but it’s totally unecological as it never breaks down! Last year I tried a straw based wreath but the foliage died too quickly so I replaced it with an artificial wreath which I bought years ago, titivated up with lots of other bits and bats, it looked great. So that’s what I’m doing again this year…I just didn’t quite get round to it on Sunday!! To give you an idea, this was last years…
The poem I’ve chosen isn’t as maudlin as it sounds. It’s interesting looking back at the quotes I’ve used over the year. I went to my notebook of poems and quotes which I started back in my twenties, I was planning to use one which starts ‘Launch a dream, watch it rise…’ as I’m pretty close to finally having a website! Then I wondered about the remembrance one, ‘For your tomorrow we gave our today’ . But as soon as I read this one I knew it was the right one. We’ve had a pretty rubbish year, even without covid, but I have friends who have had a much worse year,made much more difficult by covid. The poem is by David Lyons…
If thoughts were flowers & words could heal our pain, I would give my friend a garden filled with songbirds where tree leaves whisper to a stream.
And summer evenings hang with the scent of warm gold sun, the petals floating for her bed, soft as heather wine.
And on the tops of the hills, around where the garden lies, I would gather wood in piles and set a ring of fires to destroy the frosts of winter and singe the storm clouds with their dragon tongues.
And if flowers were thoughts, the blue of the gentian would humble my words for ever and, in the cathedral of trees, peace would descend like pollen motes upon our hair.
I think the imagery in the poem is just beautiful.
I embroidered the skeleton petals from the original design, however rather than using gold thread, I used the variegated brown which is used for cross-stitch all the months, I think it’s pretty effective in the brown.
So, here’s my wordplay for November…
December’s pattern will be released early next week I think, the last one, then I need to start stitching the pages together.