This is November.

Brown and orange. Cool and brisk. Gray skies -- really gray skies that can produce no rain but are simply the norm -- are reintroduced in November. Yes, this month has its share of sunny days that are actually quite pleasant (despite being cool and brisk), but those days are just a tease for colder and bleaker days to come.

November gets dark so early. You hit that time change, and too quickly, that sun is below the horizon too soon every late afternoon. And it only gets worse as winter approaches.

Between the day after Halloween and Thanksgiving's aftermath, November is filling. And sugary. Yet, this is the worst time to work out. The weather isn't always agreeable to exercise outside, and there never seems to be enough time to work out inside. November is indecisive in so many ways.

This month is personal for me because my birthday lands here. I get through it, and the remaining weeks are a blur through Thanksgiving. Maybe I'm not giving the rest of November enough of a chance.

But basketball season returns this month. And football is in full swing. November is Walter Payton running in slow motion while "Nobody Does It Better" provides a musical complement to his excellence. And it's preseason college basketball tournaments, watched eagerly after months since March Madness. And of course, it's throwing a football around in the cool and brisk air and on the last leaves that didn't get quite raked.

November is "Heartache Tonight" by The Eagles, "Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds and New Order's "True Faith." It's a month without reruns. It's a time to vote. It's Asteroids on the Atari 2600.

But more than anything, November is the first realization that the year is coming to an end. Spring came and went, as did summer, and fall is dwindling quickly. Winter is going to set in, as will the new year. Too much of December is focused toward the holiday that we don't quite contemplate January and February. Without November, the new year would take us completely by surprise. November, a little cruel and sometimes uneventful, reminds us of what's to come, even if we forget it until after Dec. 25.

This is November.


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