September is change: the lengthening of the shadows across the bright grass, the daily deepening chill in the air, the melancholy scritch-scritching of the crickets. This month will bring frost and flaming-red trees. The screen door will disappear. The windows will go down at night and not come so far back up during the day.
And, too, September ushers in such a rush of responsibility. All around us friends head back into their routines of work and school. We struggle against deadlines and obligations. We harvest what we can from the garden and work to save some of the abundance for colder days. I make and re-make a mental list of chores: Which plants need to come in the house? Which need to be blanketed with pine boughs? When will we find the time to put the shutters up on the screen house? Is there enough wood split and stacked? When will we move the almost-pullets into their new coop?
Yet, against the urgency of winter-coming, there is something in each day that whispers: Be still. Listen. Feel the sunshine.
It is a treasure in my life that my daughters are home with me on these days tilting hard toward autumn. It is a treasure that they too can be still. They seem unafraid of quiet, of listening to nothing but the thoughts flowing through their minds. What a comfort it will be to them all their lives to know how to hush themselves and let a moment seep into their memory. Young as they are, they have been struck already by that deeply human recognition: This cannot last. Gather it while you may.
One day has distilled this September for me. We chanced onto solitude at our favorite beach. We read. We floated. We watched the sandpipers and the seagulls and the ducks and the loons. We felt the sun on our skin and knew it wouldn't last but also knew that our memories of these hours would keep through winter. We were still and took it all in, gathered every precious sensation to hoard against the cold.