September Sunshine

I love September, when summer’s heat has taken its leave for the most part. September mornings are fresh and bright. It’s “sweater-weather” as Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph so humorously told us with their imposed exaggerated Bronx accents. I never tire of watching that skit. I’m a fan of pulling on a cozy sweater in the morning, only to cast it aside by mid-afternoon. I must confess though that dressing kids for school was sometimes a challenge in September, requiring coverage of three of the four seasons in any given day.

Summer can often take its time retreating, coyly inviting autumn in for tea, the two of them sharing stories and space, making room for one another while summer packs away the last of her hurrahs. The annoying insects have moved on, only a few stragglers left to bother with. And Mother Nature’s paint brush comes out, subtly at first, swiping with yellow here and orange there, as she stands back surveying the canvas, the colours applied depending on her mood. I catch my breath as the leaves start to change, as if I hadn’t noticed the tree before despite walking by it each day.

Perhaps the most precious part of September is how brief we know it is, how our attention is focused because what comes on her heels isn’t as easy, isn’t as comforting or calming. Winter requires readiness – snowblowers tuned up, shovels pulled out from the back of the shed, snow tires at the ready, plastic wrapped around my porch to keep the snow out, the list of books to read compiled. September is more about seizing the day than finding a heavy blanket to crawl beneath. When an attack of lazy overcomes me, I remind myself to tie on my sneakers because there won’t be many days left like this, there might be just this one.

September is gardens put to rest. I didn’t have much of a garden this year. The hurricane obliterated just about everything. I got a couple of servings of beans, while not bothering to calculate the cost of said servings. Next year will be better, I tell myself with a serious dose of hope. The blackberries were plentiful. They didn’t seem to mind the rain that came when the berries were still firmly fixed to the vine. As I write this, another hurricane is headed our way. They are calling this hurricane Lee. I hope someone has made an error in calculation and Lee will drift out into the Atlantic and leave us alone.

I remember the sadness of September, not so long ago. Bicycles lying silent on the lawn, ponies gathered at the gate waiting for treats and wondering where their riders have gone. I remember the silence of back to school, another school year launched that would pass much too quickly. I remember aching for August to tarry. I loved the joyful voices of my summer children more than

I loved September. I’ve had enough years now to adjust to the change despite the brief ache at Labour Day weekend, remembering those carefree days of summer that left all too quickly, September stealing my children away from me.

I am reminded of the writing of Jacques Lusseyran born in Paris in 1924. He lost his sight at the age of seven from a fall. He wrote, “light cast a spell over me”, feeling its presence despite his blindness. As the Nazis rose to power in Germany, Lusseyran taught himself German to understand the threatening radio broadcasts. The Nazis occupied France in 1940 and seventeen-year-old Lusseyran formed a resistance group and published a newspaper that became the voice of French freedom fighters. Two years later he was betrayed to the Nazis and was put in a four-foot by three-foot cell, eventually being sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. Lusseyran was one of thirty who survived to be liberated in 1945. He wrote And There Was Light, published in 1953, the memoir of his experience during World War II and how he survived with the lifeline of light he felt in his soul that not even blindness could dim. “When a ray of sunshine comes”, he wrote, “open out, absorb it to the depths of your being … latch on to the passing minute. Shut off the workings of memory and hope … Throw yourself into each moment as if it were the only one that really existed.” Perhaps in some tiny way, September is just such a ray of sunshine and I’m going to soak it in.