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High winds frequently happen in November, which at once strip the trees of their faded leaves, and reduce them to their Winter state of nakedness
O'er the sky the leafy deluge streams;
Flocks of wood-pigeons, or stock-doves, the latest in their arrival of the birds of passage, visit us in this month.
Salmons now begin to ascend the rivers to spawn. Their force and agility in leaping over cataracts and other obstacles to their ascent, are very surprizing. They are frequently taken in this attempt, by nets or baskets placed directly below the fall, into which they are carried after an unsuccessful leap.
The farmer strives during this month to finish all his plowing of fallows; and then lays up his utensils till the ensuing year.
Cattle and horses are taken out of the exhausted pastures, and kept in the house or yard. Hogs are put up to fatten. Sheep are turned into the turnipfield, or, in stormy weather, fed with the hay at the rick.
Bees now require to be moved under shelter; and the pigeons in the dove-house to be fed.
See, Winter comes, to rule the varied year,
The changes which take place in the face of Nature during this month, are little more than so many advances in the progress towards universal gloom and desolation
No mark of vegetable life is seen,
No bird to bird repeats his tuneful call,
The day now rapidly decreases; the weather becomes foul and cold; and, as SHAKSPEARE ex
The rain and wind beat dark December.
In this climate, however, no great and continued severity of cold usually takes place before the close of the month.
Several of the wild quadrupeds now take to their Winter concealments, which they either seldom or never quit during the Winter. Of these, some are in an absolutely torpid or sleeping state, taking no food for a considerable time; others are only drowsy and inactive, and continue to feed on provisions which they have hoarded up. In our mild climate, few become entirely torpid. Bats do so, and retire early to caves and holes, where they remain the whole Winter, suspended by the hind feet, and closely wrapped up in the membranes of the fore-feet. As their food is chiefly insects, they can lay up no store for the Winter, and therefore must be starved, did not Nature thus render food unnecessary for them. Dormice also, lie torpid the greatest part of the Winter, though they lay up stores of provision. A warm day sometimes revives them, when they eat a little, but soon relapse into their former condition.
Squirrels, and various kinds of field-mice, provide magazines of food against Winter, but are not known to become torpid. The badger, the hedgehog, and the mole, keep close in their Winter-quarters in the northern regions, and sleep away great part of the
The only vegetables which now flourish, are the numerous tribes of mosses, and the lichens or liver. worts. The mosses put forth their singular and minute parts of fructification during the Winter months; and offer a most curious spectacle to the botanist, at a time when all the rest of Nature is dead to him. Lichens cover the ditch banks, and other neglected spots, with a leather-like substance, which in some countries serves as food both to men and cattle. The rein-deer lichen is the greatest treasure of the poor Laplanders, who depend upon it for the support of their only species of domestic cattle, during their tedious Winters.
On the twenty-first of December happens the Winter-solstice, or shortest day; when the sun is something less than eight hours above the horizon, even in the southern parts of the island. Soon after this, frost and snow generally begin to set in for the rest of Winter.
The farmer has little to do out of doors in the course of this month. His chief attention is bestowed on the feeding and management of his cattle, and various matters of household economy.
The festival of Christmas occurs very seasonably to cheer this comfortless period of the year. Great preparations are made for it in the country, and plenty of rustic dainties are provided for its celebration, according to the rites of antient hospitality. Thus the old year steals away scarcely marked, and unlamented; and a new one begins with lengthening days and brighter skies, inspiring fresh hopes and pleasing expectations
Mysterious round! what skill, what force divine,
Of The Sun's ENTRANCE INTO EACH SIGN OF
Though the following Table may not be understood astronomically by most of the readers of this book, yet it may be useful as a reference, on account of the frequent allusions of poets and other writers to the subject.
THE SUN ENTERS INTO
July 23. VIRGO, or the Virgin, me. • August 23. LIBRA, or the Balance, ... .September 23. SCORPIO, or the Scorpion, m. ...October 23. SAGITTARIUS, or the Archer, f... November 22. CAPRICORNUs, or the Wild Goat, vo December 22. AQUARIUs, or the Waterer, January 19. Pisces, or the Fishes, # .February 18.