I love September. It was a love affair that had a rocky start. September had to grow on me. September used to be the force that took my children from me, a force who insisted on schedules and rules and timeliness, of having four heads of long hair brushed in the morning and fastened in some sort of design to keep it neat. September demanded clean clothes and matching socks, feet in shoes rather than running barefoot. September was bedtime curfews and hushes urging girls to sleep. September was making the dreaded school lunch that drained every culinary idea in my already culinarily-challenged brain. September silenced the fort building in the living room on rainy days, the galloping on ponies, the hanging upside down from thick tree branches, from finding freezie wrappers in every conceivable hiding place. The bikes lay idle beneath the swings in September, their wheels spinning in the wind to torment me, to remind me of the laughter and joy-shrieking from four little girls. Summer ended much too quickly in those days. I sent my children off to school with my feigned excitement and manufactured smile. I grieved their absence.
September took me away from home, too. Took me away from everything familiar, took me from my horse and my dog, took me from my dad. As Angie, the best sort of comrade and roommate, can confirm, I did not embrace the concept of growing up with any hint of enthusiasm or sense of adventure. I was heart-broken to leave my beloved farm, crying most of the drive to Winnipeg to the University of Manitoba and to our apartment on Concord Avenue. I like to think my dad was crying inside at the idea of having to leave me there in a city, with no morning chores for me to do, with no river rushing by. Perhaps he was considering tossing me into the ditch on the drive to silence my sniffling, but I doubt that. He had tears, too. I’m not sure I ever recovered from that obligated departure. Ahh, but that’s another story.
September is quiet now, and it allows me to lengthen my breath and slow my step. I don’t hurry in September. I linger over the to do list. We in Nova Scotia, unlike most of the country, have had ample rain this summer so the leaves are in no particular hurry to change their colour. I’m grateful for that. It’s like an arm raised to hold winter back. The evenings are cool, the days bright and sunny. The bugs have retreated though I must say they were on their best behaviour this summer. I sit transfixed while my campfire snaps in the fire pit, its music hypnotic, its flames shapeshifting, the oranges and yellows and reds dancing with the air to disappear into the darkness as if by magic, its smell soothing, its heat welcome, warming, comforting my longing for little girls on my knee.
You can’t bolt the door to lock September out. She will crawl through the keyhole and find the gaps ‘neath the front door and wiggle in around the windows. September and I have become friends, made peace with our differences and quarrels, as I gather seeds from my favourite flowers, a promise that summer will come again. I pack away the summer toys, the bubbles and sidewalk chalk, the badminton set and picnic blanket. I buy new pencils and fresh paper for myself in September and always a new eraser. It helps.