Summer's Best of Weather and Autumn's Greatest Cheer

Fall is my favorite season. The colors, the smells, the sweaters, the pies, the tacky and flashy and spooky and glittery holiday decorations, the hysterical cheer as summer's warmth and light fade away. I love it all.

I am as excited as the next Pumpkin Spice Girl about the imminent change of seasons, and yet you will not see me out there at Target and Starbucks binging on hoards of fake plastic orange vegetation or diabeetus drinks with fake chemical aftertastes.

You might, instead, see me outside, soaking up every last gift of the beautiful transitional month that is September in Michigan. Yes, I've been to a cider mill already and tasted the fresh harvest of pumpkin spice donuts. I also went to the beach just a few days ago with my daughter and friends. Nux reveled in the muck beneath the sand like a happy little piglet and swam to her heart's content in the still-warm water of a forest lake, because in September, fall is coming in, but summer hasn't left yet either. There is a lovely balance this month of warm days, sunshine, dramatic storm clouds, an early morning nip in the air, flowers and butterflies, lush greenery, some early bursts of autumn color, and that exquisite blend of nostalgia and anticipation that coincides with the start of a new academic year, the fulfillment of summer's bounty, and evocative hints of the year's turning. It's like hitting the top of a roller-coaster's first hill and starting to fall--time to put your hands in the air!

19th Century American poet Helen Hunt Jackson, known for her advocacy for the First Peoples of California and the rest of the United States and also for her unchained smiles in most of her photographic portraits, wrote this poem entitled "September":

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

'Tis a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

My own garden is still alive with sunflowers, roses of Sharon, buzzing bees, cicadas in the trees, and an unusual largesse of monarch butterflies around the milkweed. These natural celebrations of beauty invite me to savor this moment, neither mourning the end of summer nor impatiently rushing the fall with premature sacrifices to the gods of consumer excess.

It's not that I don't love me a sweater dress and tall boots. I'm looking forward to wearing my fall clothes, but we have a couple more weeks of warm or hot weather ahead. There's no reason to stash the flip-flops and cutoff shorts right at the moment when my legs have finally achieved that elusive hint of a tan! And besides, if I wait until the weather actually cools down to buy my trendy new thigh-high boots and sweater dresses, they'll be on clearance already.

Enjoy this fair month and all of its unique and fleeting blessings. Happy September!

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