In Other Words: Softly, September shifts our seasonal sensibilities
Published 5:11 pm, Thursday, September 3, 2015
Like a cat, it creeps up surreptitiously, winding its way out of summer and into fall. I speak of September, the sneaky month that surprises us with its sudden appearance that puts us in transition mode. But we can’t escape its presence: an acorn here, a red leaf there — and seasons shift.
June welcomes us with its sultry smile. July slithers in all flirty and hot, while August does a balancing act, uncertain as to what is expected, and in its way, is the most mercurial month of all. And just when we think we have borrowed time, the fist kiss of a breeze appears, and we can no longer deny that these halcyon days are officially over.
My favorite month is May, the harbinger of things to come. It ignites within me a sense of renewed excitement, and the realization that soon a string of summer days will seduce me with their sensual charms. Summer is a long, lazy yawn allowing us glorious, hedonistic hours of doing nothing at all. It’s the time for barbecues, evening swims and languishing on beach chairs until the sun sets, and I embrace the season as I would a long-lost friend.
Then, September quietly drifts in and starts sniffing around, unobtrusively at first so that its presence is hardly felt, yet intrusive enough to mean business. A pushy parent reminding us that enough is enough and that we had better start getting serious. Last week, the air lay over us like a heavy, gauzy quilt. Then, during the night the humidity was gone and the fever broke. By morning, August was lifted up and carried off on fairy wings, and a new page on the calendar turned.
And yet, for me, summer lingers. I can’t quite relinquish its hold. I have not breathed in enough of her magic and I am still bathed in its hypnotic glow. There is something comforting about being shrouded in heat so intense that its presence is heady and intoxicating. These early September days are provocatively seductive, and can fool us into believing summer hasn’t abandoned us. We are granted a brief retrieve, and I cherish its lightness of being.
Then, without warning, a branch sways outside my window. I can hear the soft rustle of leaves alerting me that our days are numbered. The air is different: hickory smoked and pine-scented. The smell of new leather school shoes replaces the beach aroma of suntan lotion and sea air. The fragrance of honeysuckle fades. Fireflies take off in a spray of light, and crickets arrive en masse. Soon my deck will be blanketed in acorns; their audible landings descend like foreign footsteps, signaling the squirrels to begin collecting their winter hoard.
It will soon be time for the gathering of coats and scarves. I am already pulling sweaters from the shelves and storing away my summer wardrobe. Summer is bold prints and pastels. September is a blank canvas waiting to be painted in a bronzy landscape of oranges and reds. And the first frost will appear. Pansies and hydrangea, once exploding in color, will begin hanging their heads in defeat. They have succumbed to autumn’s first chill and given up their flowery fight for survival.
For now, though, I remain in denial, choosing to ignore the signs. Instead, I slip into a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and go down to the beach where snapshots of summer remain frozen in time. The air is slightly crisp, and squawking seagulls strut the boardwalk, eyeing clusters of picnickers offering these scavengers the last of their summer scraps. And so, the season slowly fades into oblivion.
I buy ice cream at the concession stand and settle myself on a nearby bench facing the water. Puffy, whipped-cream clouds perch on the horizon line; foamy white-capped waves break against the shore. I linger for a while beneath a cobalt-blue sky. September, the fiery grande dame makes her entrance, and her presence can no longer be ignored. Summer wanes, and I have fallen prey to her allure, while an overheated restlessness burns within me still.
Judith Marks-White is a Westport writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.judithmarks-white.com.