Day 18 of 30. There's a famous Danish poem called Året har 16 måneder (The Year has 16 Months), and it goes:
Året har 16 måneder: November,
december, januar, februar, marts, april
maj, juni, juli, august, september
oktober, november, november, november, november.
And sitting in the dark, cold, rainy Copenhagen of November 2023, on a superficial level it's easy to see why the Danes bag on November so much, especially with the promise of December and its lights and songs and feasts just out of reach.
Still, I can't help but think that this take is a bit unfair. After all, it's November, and I manage to bike to work most weekdays. I never managed as much in Toronto - partially due to the weather, yes, but mostly due to a shortage of reasonable bike infrastructure that has only just recently started to improve. Jugger Copenhagen has moved indoors, and it did take clearing some initial hurdles - the kind one might expect when navigating an unfamiliar system in their third language - but now it's working smoothly, and we're even growing the club through the winter season, something we never managed in either Toronto or San Francisco. (I mean, even in San Francisco! It's not even dark, cold, or rainy there!)
So when I step back and think about it, even in November, I have much to be grateful for. I work for a company that values learning, operates at global scale, and stocks its conference rooms with plastic bricks. My partner and I have time, energy, and health enough to run and cook and explore and experience. We're both looking forward to our sports club's annual winter party, where we'll hold a potluck and bake cookies and bask in the cinematic glory of The Blood of Heroes. We earn enough to live and travel and enjoy life.
If I think about it that way, even five dark, cold, rainy Novembers sound perfectly OK.
To me, this poem is also a reflection on how our experiences are shaped by where we live - even now, even in an age of remote working and techno-optimism and global connection, location matters. It's a poem about November in Denmark, written by a Dane for Danes who could all read it and nod and say yup, that's November.
To someone sitting in San Francisco, or Singapore, or Santorini, it would make little sense. Denmark is also somewhat unusual in one regard: it's a small enough country that nearly everyone can have the same experience of seasonal weather, save for subtle hyperlocal variations. You could never write this poem in Canada or the US, with their vast distances and wide variety of regional biomes. For that matter, you'd struggle to write it in half the countries in Europe, many of which are just too large or ribboned with mountain ranges and valley microclimates.
And it's a fundamentally strange thing, when you sit back and think about it, to be sitting in this one country with its precise poetic November mood and writing about November for a global audience. You might read the poem above, and through it get some small window into that Danish November mood - but it butts up against your own reality, much as you can see the joy on someone else's face but never truly feel it.
We're all in some sense learning what it means to be connected to everyone else, and a big part of that is being surrounded by experiences and viewpoints that aren't our own, to a much greater extent than any generation that has ever lived. We have these experiences at our literal fingertips, can see them all and never truly feel any of them, and we have to wrestle with what that means.
But right now, I don't have to care about any of that. I think I'll go light a candle, listen to some bardcore, cook a good meal, and have my own warm, cozy experience of this Danish November. After all, the poem's experience of November is also not my own, and I don't have to feel the same way.