Monday, November 19, 2012

November Afternoons

"Everything in the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary."
-- Aaron Rose, film director

I have always loved the lighting at this time of year.  Late November afternoons grow dark around 5:00 pm and the evenings come upon us very fast.  We are turning on lamps and lighting candles and the glow of evening suffuses our house.  There is something thrilling about this time of the day.  It often sends us searching the bookshelves for a new book to read or perusing our cookbooks for a new recipe to cook.  The fireplace is lit and the house feels like a haven. There is an excitement in the air for fall and winter activities.  Suddenly there are excellent movies to see, great ideas for themed dinner parties, engrossing books to read by the fire, and of course the anticipation of the holidays.

 Many writers have described this time of the day and rooms that are illuminated by soft lighting, candles and fireplaces --

"...a table gleaming with the light of candles, the whiteness of napery, the silver of the samovar and the tea service of transparent porcelain." --  Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

The glow of a candlelit dinner
photo via here

"She had forgotten the heavy smoothness with which armchairs ran over the parquet, the sudden muting of steps as one crossed a rug.  The mirrors were bright with reflections of grey-green gardens...Firelight fingered the cups on the tray between the armchairs; arched deep recesses were dark with books...the long pale-green curtains hung from their pelmets like pillars, placidly fluted."
--  Elizabeth Bowen, To the North

The atmosphere of a softly lit library
via here

"The afternoon had faded but the lamps had been brought in, the smell of flowers was in the air and the old house of Plash seemed to recognize the hour that suited it best.  The quiet old lady in the firelight, encompassed with the symbolic security of chintz and water-colour, gave her a sudden vision of how blessed it would be to jump all the middle dangers of life and have arrived at the end, safely, sensibly, with a cap and gloves and consideration and memories."
-- Henry James, A London Life

The warmth of a fire burning in the fireplace
Photo via here

"We will each write a ghost story."
--- Lord Byron

 The soft illumination of two lamps in an entryway, implying mystery around the corner
I can imagine Byron and his friends gathering here for their ghost stories
Photo via here


Speaking of gorgeous lighting and atmosphere, the new film adaptation of Anna Karenina has both.  It opened this weekend. Have you seen it?  It is a beautiful film with great acting, magical lighting and exquisite costumes.  It takes you away to another time and place, imperial Russia of the 1870s, and puts you directly into the love affair between Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky and the drama and tragedy that follow.   I felt transported, as if I had fallen into Tolstoy's great novel.  It was a  perfect outing for a November afternoon.

Photo via here

Now that November afternoons are rapidly turning into dark evenings, how do you spend your time?  Movies, cooking, knitting, good books, holiday planning?  I'd love to hear what you are up to on these cozy nights during late November. 


  1. Sunday, As I left school this afternoon I thought of treating myself to Anna Karenina this evening, but there are many things to do to prepare for Thanksgiving. So good to hear you enjoyed it. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Bonnie

  2. Roaring fires, making soup, knitting, reading....creating coziness.
    I'm looking forward to seeIng Anna Karenina.

  3. Baking, trying a new recipe, brewing a pot of tea...
    reading a novel snug under a warm duvet by a roaring fire.
    Anna Karenina is on my list of movies to see as I saw the trailer when we went to Skyfall.
    A matinee sounds like a perfect escape on a blustery fall day.

  4. I love making autumn soups and getting out my knitting and needlepoint. Shopping for all the Thanksgiving meal groceries makes me happy. I love your idea of an afternoon matinee. I also love your top picture. Just beautiful! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving Sunday! I love the rain right now. With my children at their grandparents for a few days, I spent all day and evening yesterday finishing
    "Beautiful Ruins" on my favorite chair with complete silence. Luxury (although I begin missing them after a few days)! With the weather, Im starting to feel like baking again....

  6. I also am so affected by light and I do love the soft warm light of the autumn late afternoon. The mountains in the back of my home change color and the trees change color daily at this time of year. However, my favorite activity for the late afternoon is a fire and my book (right now House of Mirth) and sometimes (I hate to admit it) a short nap in my favorite chair. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Dreamy afternoons and great quotes! Happy Thanksgiving, XOXO

  8. I love the combination of the literary quotes and light-filled photos. So beautiful. I do love the luminous November light. It is lovely in the afternoons.

    I so want to see 'Anna Karenina', but it is not playing in Phoenix yet. It sounds so creative and unique.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!