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Now the leaf
And slowly circles through the waving air. As the maturing and dispersing of seeds was a striking character of the last month, so the fall of the leaf distinguishes the present. From this circumstance the whole declining season of the year is often in common language denominated the fall. The melancholy sensations which attend this gradual death of vegetable nature, by which the trees are stripped of all their beauty, and left so many monuments of decay and desolation, forcibly suggest to the reflecting mind an apt comparison for the fugitive generations of man. This quick succession of springing and falling leaves has been thus beautifully applied by Homer.
Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
The loss of verdure, together with the shortened days, the diminished warmth, and frequent rains, justify the title
of the gloomy month of November; and it seems to be felt as such by other animals beside man.
In pensive guise,
Oft let me wander o'er the russet mead,
And through the sadden'd grove, where scarce is heard
Intervals, however, of clear and pleasant weather occasionally happen; and in general the autumnal months are, in our island, softer and less variable than the correspondent ones in spring. It long continues.
The pale descending year, yet pleasing still.
In fair weather the mornings are sharp; but the hoarfrost, or thin ice, soon vanishes before the rising sun.
The lengthen'd night elapsed, the morning shines,
And now the mounting sun dispels the fog;
Sudden storms of wind and rain frequently occur, which at once strip the trees of their faded leaves, and reduce them to their state of winter nakedness.
O'er the sky the leafy deluge streams;
One of the first trees that becomes naked is the walnut, which is quickly succeeded by the mulberry, horse-chesnut,
sycamore, lime, and ash; the elm retains its verdure for some time longer; the beech and oak are the latest deciduous forest trees in casting their leaves; apple and peach-trees often remain green till the latter end of November: and pollard oaks, and young beeches, lose not their withered leaves, till they are pushed off by the new ones of the succeeding spring.
The wood-pigeon, or stock-dove, the latest in its arrival of the winter birds of passage, makes its appearance about the middle of the month. When pinched by hunger, it will eat the young tops of turnips, but beech-mast is its favourite food; and before the old beech woods in the southern parts of the island were so much thinned, the multitudes of stockdoves that annually resorted thither, probably from Sweden and the north of Germany, were almost incredible. They might be seen, like rooks, in long strings of a thousand or more, directing their evening flight to the thick woods, where they were shot in great numbers by the fowlers who awaited their arrival.
Salmon begin now to ascend the rivers in order to spawn; they are extremely active fish, and will force their
almost to the sources of the most rapid streams, overcoming with surprising agility cataracts and other obstacles to their passage. There are several salmon leaps, as they are called, both in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland ; at which numbers of fish are taken by nets or baskets placed under the fall, into which they are carried after an unsuccessful leap.
The farmer endeavours to finish all his ploughing in the course of this month, and then lays up his instruments till the next spring.
Cattle and horses are taken out of the exhausted pastures, and kept in the yard or stable. Hogs are put up to fatten. Sheep are turned into the turnip-field, or in stormy weather fed with hay at the rick.
Bees require to be moved under shelter, and the pigeons in the dove-house to be fed.
“Of all the months in the year,” says Christopher North, " November in our climate, whether in town or country, bears the worst character. It is almost universally thought to be a sour, sulky, sullen, savage, dim, dull, dark, disconsolate, yet designing month-in fewer words, a month scarcely fit