I sat in the bright, cool morning, under the intensely blue September sky, admiring the Beautyberries and reddening Dogwood leaves, hardly noticing the leaves falling from trees all around me.
A slow walk through the garden is full of tell-tale signs of the approaching winter. The butterfly tree is almost bare of flowers now, its bright blue berries disappearing, too, into the mouths of hungry birds. Brown husks where Echinacea bloomed only weeks ago, grasses gone to seed, shriveled leaves on the lawn, and Coreopsis shutting down for the season all hint at the approaching winter chill.
Suddenly the Pyracantha berries are turning bright orange, and the inky purple Pokeweed berries with their bright red stems shine along roadside. We hear the “alarm geese” flying over the house each morning around 7. The flocks keep sounding larger with each passing week.
We noticed quite suddenly that the butterflies have disappeared. It seems only yesterday that they were constant companions on our walks through the garden. We watched them flying together in wild spirals near the Lantana, covering the butterfly bushes and competing with the hummers for the tastiest blossoms. Where did they go so suddenly? And when did it happen?
I was thrilled to find a bee today buzzing from sage blossom to sage blossom, and another on some Pentas. Where are the rest? It is as if they all suddenly had their fill of nectar and disappeared, although the buffet of flowers is still generously spread out across the garden for their enjoyment.
Now the garden is quiet, with only the occasional bird call. Even the grass is growing more slowly. We hear fewer lawn crews mowing the neighbors’ lawns, and find that our mornings are no longer scheduled around watering, buzzing and mowing.
It is as if the whole area is breathing a huge sigh of relief. The humidity has evaporated, and the air is crisp. Autumn is a restful time as nature begins to shut down and prepare for the silence of winter. The lush green of summer is dying back to branch and soil, withering to gold and orange, and finally brown, before crumpling to the Earth. The birds have fewer places to hide.
For so many years of my life I was too busy to notice the slow involution of September. I was completely engrossed with my classes, whether as student or teacher. New books to read, fresh syllabi to accomplish, students to learn, classrooms to decorate, stacks of papers and journals to go through, parents to greet, and PTA fundraisers to promote. By the time I came up for breath summer had already slipped into full orange and brown October. I missed the quiet beauty of September mornings and this glorious “in between” time as summer makes a graceful exit.
We bought pumpkins for the front porch today, and a huge Chrysanthemum. The year progresses in its steady march and continuous change. I want to savor the sweetness of September a while longer, though. I’m not quite ready to let go of warm afternoons and the busyness of insects buzzing in the garden, crickets and frogs filling the nights with music, and morning glories in the sharp morning air. September should be savored, like a delicious Muscadine grape: chewed slowly, tasted thoroughly and appreciated for the delicious and fleeting sweetness it offers.
All Photos by Woodland Gnome