Yesterday morning dawned golden and white. An owl hooted in the nearby beech trees. The sun was up in the east and the sky a palate of yellow and purple stripes. The golden glow was repeated in the turning leaves of the beeches. On the ground the grass was covered with a film of white frost, a colour repeated in the trunk of a silver birch. It was a glorious start to the day.

A few hours later it was raining. Tree trunks turned black, and the vivid leaves – still strikingly beautiful – were now against a grey sky. People who’d lingered in bed for a weekend lie-in missed the dawn. They ventured out, in dark coloured hooded coats, negotiating puddle-filled paths under leaden weeping skies and wonky umbrellas.

A stark reminder of the effects of contrasting weather conditions was illustrated by a photo in the newspaper. It showed houses in northern England, surrounded by flood waters, standing in roads that had turned to murky muddy rivers. In the background of the picture was a hillside with bright autumn-leafed trees. Beauty and brokenness side by side. TV pictures showed billowing black clouds above ever-towering and fierce orange flames – a wildfire in Australia. People’s homes were in the foreground.

Like the weather, life has times of calm and times of turbulence, bright spots and dreadful disasters. We learn how compassion, kindness and support are worked out in community. Remember A A Milne’s story “in which Piglet is entirely surrounded by water”? Piglet is rescued by Christopher Robin and Pooh Bear in their improvised boat – an upturned umbrella.

I like November for its contrasts. Whether I like life’s greyness as well as its brightness is debatable, but somehow “we weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not.” Good and bad times are shared and we celebrate and commiserate with one another as appropriate.


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