September ambles in like that dear friend you haven’t seen for a while, that you relish spending time with, the one who reminds you to slow down, look around and sometimes even rest a while. The whirligig-freneticism of summer is slowed. The air cools, days shorten, shadows lengthen and the gilded sun, casting light over everything, reminds us that all that still needs to ripen, will keep doing so in just exactly the right time. We can neither hurry along, or through, this golden, amber-infused month.
For me, while I embrace the soft changes, I will admit to holding on tightly to every single day that can still be counted as “summer:” For as long as the sun is hot and the lake water still warm enough to swim in, I shall continue to heed that calling. The beaches are now mostly empty and solo swimming in silent waters is a rare treat in September.
I enjoy the crisper mornings, sipping tea on my farmhouse stoop; marveling at the mists gently wisping and rolling across the pasture, studying the edges of the forest, where great armies of goldenrod are now growing tall with a yellow fury, an intensity that rivals that of the sun.
Back to school heralds a “return to routine;” my barefoot and feral children who have enjoyed a summer with no particular schedule now find their days structured and full. In the first few weeks, they’ll arrive home exhausted but still swiftly shed their school stuff and run outside until either dusk or hunger drives them inside. I will return to keeping longer office hours, and no longer run from one social engagement to another, but begin instead to build in more time for reflection, and reconnection with words and writing.
I will also harvest what is left of the garden — yes, for those who have been following along for a few months, my late-planted tomatoes gave generously and in good time! Weekend rains will inevitably come and with them canceled outdoor plans. Some odd Saturday afternoons will be passed instead sitting and reading by an open window, catching the breeze with the smell of newly drenched air that’s caught upon it.
While I’m walking the farm, the sheep will look up at me briefly, knowing that soon enough they’ll be seeing me daily with armfuls of hay. For now, though, they are focused on what’s before them, as the evening sun sets its long light across the lawns, their heads return to their work. The grass growth slows to an almost imperceptible speed in September, but somehow there is still enough for everyone.
Because that’s what this month is all about: bridging to another time that has not yet arrived. Our feet are straddling two seasons and we are asked to tend a threshold that has not fully transitioned. We find there are less of some things and more of others, but magically, it is all still enough.
Etienne White lives where the land meets the sky on a farm in Iowa County where she raises grass-fed, Old English Babydoll sheep, as well as pastured chickens, a happy farm dog, a wily barn cat and her two spirited children. She runs a consulting business working at the intersection of sustainability and marketing, and is a sought-after speaker on sustainability in the United States and Europe.