Though still bright and jeweled with bursts of color, the garden is making seeds and storing food to bulbs from leaves no longer green. The fruits of the summer are being stored for the short days of winter where raspberry jam will smell like a whisper of july on sunday mornings. September is abundance! I see it in the sweet maries that drip from vines, the baskets of bumpy cucumbers, the orchards and the road side markets all seem to be bursting at the seams.
I feel flooded with sights, fragrance and memory. We are hardwired to open doors to the all but forgotten moments when our senses are awakened and we stumble back down roads we have travelled. These last summer days are rich and full of moments like that. A peach pie cooling in the window takes me back to Helen’s kitchen where as a newlywed I learned her recipe though not her magic touch. She shared generously in a voice that still carried remnants of the accent of her childhood in the Virginia hills. She was cautious with those stories having met a lot of preconceptions and bias in her early days in Canada, but while we waited for the sugar and water to boil into a thick syrup she talked about being one of a dozen children. Her memories of that time in the black hills where the men came home with coal dust deeply soaked into their skin and shoes traded in september were not worn outside of school until the cold came. While canning I hear my aunt Ruby’s voice telling me to boil down sugar not to skim away too much, not to be wasteful even when there is plenty because of course times change. I think about berry picking, and dusty roads, bare feet and the rich laughter of the women who shaped my childhood, who have now mostly passed. I think about love.
Yesterday I walked with my daughter in the cool grass along the forest wall. Bits of amber in the ferns and bracken, a briskness in the morning air. I stopped to pop a cherry tomato from the vine into my mouth, ‘Mom, really? it’s 9 o’clock’! I smile and bite down to the burst of flavor. We weave a tapestry rich in color, fragrance, sound and taste. It becomes a shawl on our shoulders in the cold times. It wraps us in comfort and tatters with age. We pass on pieces like quilt patches to the ones who come into our lives. It is how I know the aunt who died when I was an infant, and the one who never grew to be more than a child. I know them, though we never met, they too shape my life.
September of course takes the children back from summer and leads them into the classroom. Some advocate for a year round school system and while I understand what that could offer, it would in my opinion take so much away. I am an advocate for summer holidays. I hope that there will long be lazy times to lay in the grass and find images in the clouds drifting past in the bluest sky. I hope there will be barefoot days, berry picking pails, sandy toes, campfires, mosquito bites to fuss about and elders to teach outside of classrooms the stories that tuck into the fibre of connection and family life. How much can be packed into this last week before labor day and first bells? Lets see!