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The last of summer

September 25, 2014

It has slowly dawned on me over the past decade at Castle Beastie that September is one of my favourite times of year. For so long, I associated the month only with the end of the holidays, the start of the new school year – and a consequent sinking feeling. It was October which, after university, made me nostalgic: horse chestnut trees blazing with autumn colour over a punt-strewn backwater; the smell of damp leaves in a cobbled college lane.

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September’s subtle beauty I have overlooked for too long. Morning mists clear to reveal a mild blue sky; mellow sunlight gilds the grass and kindles the first gleams of topaz and amber on the limes and the beech trees. Birdsong fills the woods again, a brief echo of the music of the spring chorus. Animals which hibernate in the winter are busy fattening up before the cold sets in, so it is one of the best times of year to see red squirrels digging under the avenue of ancient yews, and hedgehogs about their business on the lawns.

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The ospreys flew south some time ago now, and a week ago the swallows and house martins followed suit. Buzzards still patrol the skies, though, their high mewing call haunting the tree tops. A raven cronks from a tall fir tree; a gathering of jackdaws squabble comfortably together in the limes. Outside the kitchen window, there is a fence post which is a favourite perch for a robin: he and I observe each other as I’m washing the dishes in the morning. His red breast feathers are growing a little brighter week by week.

What’s so lovely about this season, I think, is the mellowness. The children are back at school, the last of the holiday clothes have been washed and put away, and our events season is drawing to a close. Humans may have a feeling of new beginnings engendered by the start of the school year but, in the cycle of the natural world, there is a sense that the turning wheel is slowing down a little. Daytime temperatures continue to be warm: indeed, this year’s September has been unusually warm, with temperatures in the high teens Centigrade/ high sixties Fahrenheit on and off all month. Although the leaves are beginning to be tinged with gold and to colour the ground, overhead the trees are still thickly green. This is the moment in the year when we can almost fool ourselves that summer will drift on indefinitely.

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The equinox is past, however. In the evenings, mist creeps up from the river as the daylight fails soon after 7pm. By morning the mist is sometimes thick fog, and there is condensation on the windows despite their being ajar. Today’s golden sunshine, birdsong and mild blue sky are amongst the last of summer’s gifts – which is precisely why they are so precious.

You  might enjoy late summer in the garden, or some observations on the end of the school holidays – with hedgehog! – in I am enlightened, you are laid back…

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2014 11:01 pm

    There is a mellowness. This is exactly how it feels “a sense that the turning wheel is slowing down a little.” You composed the perfect song for the season.
    We are a little cooler than normal, but not much – a short summer they said. Everything is still pretty green due to all the rain. They say this is the first year since 1997 that there were no days “officially” over 100 at the designated weather station.
    The glare and heat of summer are too much for me. (The windows must be shut and drapes closed to stay cool. Cabin fever!) I come back alive mid September – even if the days are shorter. We can get outside again.

    • September 26, 2014 4:26 pm

      Living in a climate which doesn’t suit your temperament must be trying. I feel for you: I should hate to have to shut out the light in the summer because of the oppressive heat. How you must welcome autumn!

  2. Toffeeapple permalink
    September 25, 2014 11:27 pm

    Oh, that is so beautifully written that I cannot say anything else just now.
    I shall return.

  3. September 26, 2014 12:15 am

    Beautifully expressed and I quite agree with your sentiments about September. I always reckoned September was the most consistently pleasant month when we lived in Argyll. I also love September because it’s the beginning of Autumn which is my favourite season.

    • September 26, 2014 4:29 pm

      Thanks. I think May is the other best moment in Scotland; especially on the west coast. When you get bright blue days and the first warm sunshine, it’s just perfect.

      • September 26, 2014 4:38 pm

        I completely agree with you about May. It’s no coincidence that May and September tend to have fewer midgies too which helps endear those months to me.

  4. September 26, 2014 9:24 am

    Thank you once again for your beautiful word and descriptions. You are so fortunate to know how lucky you are.

  5. September 26, 2014 10:11 am

    Lovely words and pictures. That first one looks almost like a pastel painting. I agree with you – this year, September has had a gentle magic and I don’t want to let it go!

    • September 26, 2014 4:32 pm

      The woods really do look painterly at the moment. It has been such a gentle month, as you say. Today’s gusty winds may be blowing us into autumn, though – I wrote this just in time I think!

  6. September 26, 2014 4:20 pm

    A beautiful ode to September. The season has turned, but today we enjoyed a warm, sunny day at the coast, though the strong winds were a reminder that there won’t be too many more of those now.

    • September 26, 2014 4:33 pm

      Thank you. Yes, we have the wind as well today, making me realise how little of it we’ve had this month. Onwards to autumn…

  7. September 26, 2014 8:07 pm

    So very true. I had the gift of a trip to the Scottish countryside today and I was marvelling at all that September has to offer.

  8. hmunro permalink
    September 27, 2014 2:36 pm

    What a beautiful post, DB. Not only is it wonderful to see nature through your keen and poetic eyes, it’s also a reminder to appreciate the small moments. As someone who struggles each year to embrace the fall, I thank you for this most welcome perspective.

  9. cath permalink
    September 27, 2014 3:08 pm

    Read this again this morning as I’ve done every morning since you published it. It’s a poetic and gentle reminder of the value of being in the moment.

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