September. It is the month of beginnings, of fresh starts, of renewal and reconnection. I took my first breath on an early September day at 3:36 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Pasco, WA. Twenty-three years and two days later I started a new life with Brendan, a few minutes after 5 p.m. at Mt. Pisgah Presbyterian in Roslyn, WA. I fell in love in September, landing in Paris on the morning of September 10, 1990 and stumbling wearily from a jetway into a country that would hold me in its spell to this very day. A thirteen year career in higher education, running parallel to Brendan’s as a high school teacher, meant that our lives ran according to a September-August calendar; Labor Day marked the end of one year and the head-long rush into the next. Even in New Zealand September marked the turn of new page: the first of the month was the official, meteorological start to spring.
I breathe easier when the calendar flips from torpid August to bustling September. The light loses its glare, deepening to a soothing blue that tempers still-warm afternoons. The sun glows lower on the horizon, beaming harvest gold before sinking behind the Olympic Mountains earlier each evening. For a few glorious weeks the earth balances on the cusp of ripe and decay and the air pulses with deep, ancient smells. Early morning fog brings aromas of a cooling ocean to my doorstep, late afternoon sunshine warms the sugars in the apples and plums that fall and burst open on my neighbors’ lawns.
This year an estival twist has challenged my internal calendar. After bemoaning a spring that never was, we have been graced with cloudless skies and temperatures that have held steady in the 70s and 80s since late July. September has brought our warmest days; the skies glow Tuscan red and orange at daybreak and sunset as fires burn deep in the Olympic Mountains. We’ve toasted our weekend dinners of grilled salmon or simple salads on the patio with chilled rosé, even as I dog-ear recipes for hearty soups in the autumn issues of cooking magazines. The bedroom fan, silent for most of the summer, finally got a good dusting off a few weeks ago and oscillates through the night.
I’ve been grateful for this extension of summer, content to remain in my warm weather uniform of Tevas, tank top and running skort, eating finally-ripe tomatoes and lush peaches, knowing these hedonistic pleasures are fleeting in this land of perpetual dripping green.
But this morning I caught a glimpse of the week’s forecast as I flipped through the Sunday paper. Clouds and cooler temperatures will be ours by week’s end. I cannot wait.
Brendan just interrupted me, insisting I go outside to look at the moon. The moon that will wax full in few hours. The Harvest Moon. And on the other side of that moon is Autumn. The season to start anew.