Although the first day of fall is September 22nd there is something special about seeing the calendar change to the month of September. During spring they say March, “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” as the transition from winter to spring takes place. September is a similar transition month along with October–but it’s a very different transition. It’s not nearly as radical. It’s a gradual change, but one that I’ve always loved.
When I was a kid I welcomed September since it meant my birthday was coming up. Over time, that has become less and less of an attraction, but September still holds an allure. September brings first signs of fall which is a magnificent time of year in West Virginia. Activity wise, we see the opening of hunting and football seasons–two of my favorite pastimes. Around the house, it’s a time to take stock of all the work you’ve done over the summer. Projects started in the spring are either done, or on the short list for completion. The garden is starting to wane, but the pantry is rich with tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn and various other goodies the Good Lord allowed you to grow in the garden. Then there is the change of the weather which is inevitably coming. The cruel grip of hazy, hot, and humid conditions cannot keep its hold on September. Oh, it will try, but nights start to cool off and the periods of potent sun and stagnant air start to transition to simply warm afternoons cooled by a steady autumn breeze.
We can all collectively catch our breath during an evening on the porch during September and anticipate the brilliant fall colors October will surely deliver. The first frost may be several weeks away, but that infernal grass which choked the lawnmower for the past five months is now a short timer.
Growing up on the farm back in Virginia fall was a special time. It meant cool evenings, a sense of urgency to get the tobacco crop in the barn. We burned through the last cutting of hay to top off the stacks in the barn loft ready and made them ready for winter.
My nostalgic feelings toward fall may also be heavily influenced by my dad. It was his favorite time of the year as well, largely for all of the same reasons I have already detailed. Daddy was an 8th grade English teacher as well as a farmer. As I grow older I’ve grown to appreciate how he was able to communicate to his students. Every year he had them memorize and recite for the class James Whitcomb Riley’s “When Frost is on the Punkin.” Today when I meet former students–some of them from 30 years ago, they can still recite parts of the poem and remember him well for that very lesson. Dad managed to carve quite a legacy of his own with Riley’s wonderful work. It makes me wonder why we’ve stopped forcing students to learn and recite things at the head of the class, but that’s a discussion topic for another time and another day.
Daddy never forced me to learn the poem, but influenced by his passion I did anyway. I can’t recite all of it anymore–but I can get belt out the first stanza on command. Our family often references the poem around this time of year in our family discussions, much like Daddy’s former students.
Welcome back September! I’ve missed you and it’s always good to have you around.