It’s the time of year where the grass turns brown and crunches under bare feet. The bushes are wilted, sagging from the heat and lack of rain. Even the mighty Willows, which are weepy-looking anyway, look tired. It seems that everything is laboring under the heat and gasping for water.
I always think of September as the turning point of the summer heat. It is the start of the new quarter on our calendar and we are now only four months away from Christmas, and that puts winter in my mind. That should mean that the weather will now change and that glorious season of fall will be here. Right?
Every year I am tricked by turning that calendar page to September. I am so ready to stop sweating that I expect the leaves to start their brilliant fall show any minute. But as the heat drags on well into September, I remember just how bad my memory is: September is mostly hot!
When I was young, the approach of September meant going school clothes shopping. Remember that? All the racks were lined with the fall styles and fall looks way too early: boots, pants, sweaters, long-sleeved tops. Of course it was still summer when mom dragged all five of us down to the store to shop for new clothes, so we were sweating in the store, sticking to all the wool and long sleeves and shoes. It seemed almost cruel. None of us were excited about the new clothes yet, and mom was frustrated that she couldn’t get us to like this shopping trip with even the bribe of new clothes. We all had to wait while the other siblings tried their clothes on, changed out for the right size, ran for different colors, etc. Those were tortuous trips for me. To this day, I don’t try on clothes in a department store.
But when the first day of school came, it finally got exciting. Those new clothes came out of the closet and off we went to school!
This summer I met up with some school chums and we all laughed over those ‘first days’ of school, because we all wore our finery at the cost of heat stroke. One of my friends said that her mother had gently suggested that she wait a week or two to wear the real fall clothes. We all laughed, because we are all parents now and know that there is no getting a teenage girl to listen when it comes to fashion. One of my friends reminded us of our first day in high school, which was the Tuesday after Labor Day (shows how old I am: back then we started school AFTER Labor Day, not in the middle of summer like they do now). And there she went, off to school in her new fall wardrobe: wool plaid slacks and long-sleeved matching sweater in 90 degree heat! Still sweating and sticking!! We roared with laughter because we all remember it!
On our farm, everything is sagging and sad looking. Irrigation has picked up, but when the earth is this dry it is like trying to wet a sponge: it keeps soaking it up with no clear effect. Our bees are still working but even they have slowed down, not producing much honey. The dog still runs through the field but comes back more quickly now, trying to find a cool spot of tile in the cool house. The thermometer showed 115 yesterday as we came into the house, which made me feel less like a wimp for feeling so beat working out in the heat, but no better for knowing how hot it actually was.
The first thing people talk about when they meet each other is the heat. The second thing is the weather forecast. And like all the plants, people seem wilted and tired at this time of year. People are still working: the corn is still being harvested, hay is still being loaded and hauled, the tractors are all still out moving and working. But it’s like watching a video set just a tad slower than normal speed.
Since I am over half-a-century old, you would think that I would not be delusional about something that happens every single year, year after year. You would think that after more than fifty years of summer-to-fall transitions, I would remember that September is not the first month of fall, but the very last breath of summer. I think that it’s just hope of change, not true forgetfulness.
When the fall finally does come, we all will be rejoicing in the cooler weather. We will feel like getting out to all the fall fairs and harvest festivals. I know that when winter is finally here and has us in it’s icy grip, I will be wishing for the hot weather, but right now I am tired of being a puddle of sweat.