Where September Ends…
It began to happen a few weeks before the equinox. The leaves began to change almost over night — changing from green to indescribable colors and combinations. The sunlight changed color, too — and the sky, a different shade of blue. If you never stopped to look, maybe these changes wouldn’t be so striking — the difference between green and gold, aqua and azure. Still, not noticing them doesn’t make them any less real. Autumn is here!
Ordinarily I’d apologize for making only one post for an entire month. But, seeing as how September was unceremoniously dubbed Canning Month, I will make no apologies! I was not absent for laziness or carelessness. I was busy in the kitchen simmering down summer and ladling it into jars to glisten in the pantry.
Now that most of the jars have been filled (only apples and pumpkins remaining) and an entire season of heat, sun, soil, and vigor is past, I stare out the kitchen window to see the maples beckoning me to wander outside and just stare for a while.
The shadows from the early autumn sunlight draw you from your house and into the woods on days like these, as if in a trance. The days are shorter and shorter and you find yourself cherishing them maybe more than usual because of it. Work can wait, autumn won’t! Let’s hit the trail and see it!
A very dry August (little more than a half inch of rain) we’re told means that fall colors, this year, won’t be quite as vibrant or as lasting. In agreement, some of the aspens and beeches already shed their leaves without so much as a peep of color, tired and worn from the long, dry summer. Better luck next year, I hope. But, we still have the maples and a few other hardwoods to admire in this abbreviated autumn.
Autumn from top to bottom — the sky, the trees, the leaves… the flowers. I sometimes stare at knapweed and marvel at its tenacity. Its seeds are so inconsequential you might never notice them as they explode and tumble while you tromp through on your way from point A to B and yet each one produces a plant so stubborn and determined that controlling them is more like holding back an invading army.
Determined and resourceful, knapweed can also taint the soil around its roots so that the seeds of other plants will not germinate so easily while its own seeds will have a sure advantage. Botanists call this sneakiness allelopathy, but I think of it more as over-protective mothering — one plant reaching into the soil to help the plants soon to come. Of course, this isn’t so charitable if you’re any plant other than knapweed!
And so, September has ended, and with it summer. The flowers are fading, busying themselves with making seeds for next year. The fruits are ripening, ushering in one last bit of harvesting. The songbirds are gathering and discussing their journey. The leaves are changing and falling as the forest yawns and sighs in the crisp breeze, preparing for its annual hibernation where its sleep will be as full of dreams as any wakefulness of summer.