Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Hear September's Golden Song

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

I Hear September's Golden Song

Article excerpt

True: "The days grow short/ When you reach September." There's not much working light on the plots after 7:30 these nights.

But during the daylight hours the place is buzzing still, and even if everyone's onions are now up and hung out to dry like washing, or shelved away in sheds, the ground is full of things yet to harvest. Zucchinis are not over, and sweet peas, though my row is now a top-heavy chaos, continue to provide a generous bunch every few days. The spinach goes on going on, and so does the chard (the stems of which have as many different colors as a sunset). Jerusalem artichokes are flowering like lanky yellow daisies.

It's full of wonders, this month. Admittedly, the sky does have a sporadic tendency to darken and weep with sudden extravagance. But some of our softest and sweetest days predominate. September is, surely, "the kindest month." When else do you encounter such complete mildness? Such golden mornings amiable with mist? Such afternoons of self-assured, pervasive sunshine? The gentle light, which can fool plants into a pseudo-spring growth and even into flowering out of season, has no harshness. It coaxes and ripens. It no longer beats down from on high, but shines through everything.

In Yorkshire-speak we call this

winding-down of the year "the back-end." A neat, blunt phrase, even if a touch anatomical. But it is not particularly accurate, since this time is rather confused about itself, unsure if it's an ending or a beginning.

In the Middle Ages it was definitely an ending, since Sept. 29 was the last day of autumn (which had started at the beginning of August). It was "Michaelmas Day," (an ecclesiastical feast day named after St. Michael, the warrior-archangel). It was the day by which all harvesting should be complete. Next day, it was winter.

In our time, we hardly subscribe to such incisively prescribed seasons, as if the world on Sept. …

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