The record high of 71 degrees for this day in the Twin Cities set in 1999 and a low of zero set in 1986 tell of the variability of November temperatures we experience.
We also can expect Indian summer days resulting in open golf courses, fishing boats on lakes, and picnickers and hikers enjoying the sunshine.
In November, trees are silhouetted against blue skies and cloud formations; dried grasses and herbs stand tall; natural food is plentiful for wild animals; big migrations of waterfowl sweep across the state; lakes steam on cold mornings; and new ice appears.
This is the month of clouds, so we often end up with some of the best sunsets of the year. Statewide, farmers labor to finish up combining corn and other field work, and gardeners dig rutabagas and parsnips sweetened by the frost for delicious eating, or to store for winter use. Native bittersweet vines show glowing orange fruit, winterberry fruit is bright red, and wild rose hips also are an attractive red.
If you enjoy berry-picking you don’t have to stop when the growing season ends. The rose hip is an edible red waxy fruit that remains on wild roses and can be picked in November and through the winter. Wild roses thrive throughout Minnesota in a variety of upland habitats, including prairies, open woodlands, forest edges, near streams and lakes, in grassy roadsides, and along fences. Their woody stems are usually bristly, and shrubs stand 3 to 4 feet. Rose flowers are a symbol of beauty. The fruit is known for healthy eating. Rose hips are a rich source of vitamin C and are used in herbal teas, jam, jelly, marmalade, syrup, soup, beverages, and pies.
Inside the rose hip are many small edible seeds, which are a good source of many nutrients.
Dried rose hips are well worth carrying in a pocket during an outdoor hike for munching on like raisins. To prepare them, just cut hips in half, remove the central core of seeds, and dry the remaining shell-like skins and pulp quickly in a low temperature oven.
Jim Gilbert’s observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.