Since I was in a bit of a funk during my last QT, this time I decided to keep it light and share a few of my favorite things about this month. September is not my favorite month of the year (because nothing beats May and October) but it is definitely in the top five. This particular year, the September weather here has been beyond beautiful, with day after day of sun and low humidity and cool nights. All of which are pretty rare when you live in southern Appalachia, so I'll take it! The cloudy, damp, dark days of winter will be here too soon. So, in no particular order, here are some of the things in my proverbial backyard that I love most about this month.
ApplesIt's apple harvest season and we are having a very, dare I say, fruitful year. All the apple trees in these parts are loaded and we, along with the deer and squirrels, are enjoying their bounty. Since apples tend to produce only every couple of years, we're trying to stock up as much as we can for now. So far, I've frozen apples, dried apples, and am considering canning some next. We've been feasting on fried apples, apple cake, apple pancakes and applesauce. If you haven't visited your local orchard, do it soon. They're never as good as they are right now.
The RiverSeptember (and October) are also usually very dry months around here. That means the river waters get low and clear. Combine that with the cool nights that keep the water temperatures down, and the river fishing starts to get good! This photograph is one of my favorite spots along the river. I spent many a September as a teenager wading the shallows of this spot and catching smallmouth bass. Now, I just love to sit on the rocks and watch my son splash in the puddles. Fishing can wait until he's a bit older.
Warm Season GrassesWhen we lived in Missouri, I loved seeing the tall native prairie grasses this time of year. Unlike the "cool season grasses", which are what most people have growing in their yard, the "warm season grasses" mature and bloom late in the summer, during the warm months. They are very tolerant to drought and also make excellent wildlife habitat. Plus, I think they are just gorgeous. The big bluestem, in particular, is always dramatic once it reaches its peak height of five or six feet in September. Before all of the prairie region of the midwest was converted to cropland and fescue, these grasses once dominated, and it is said that a man riding a horse could not see over the top of them. How I would've loved to have seen that! This photo is a patch of native prairie grass that we established in our backyard when we lived in Missouri. Every September, we'd find this patch of grass filled with migrating grosbeaks, buntings, wrens and finches. It really came alive and the golden hues in the evening twilight were more beautiful to me than any patch of manicured lawn. I really miss it.
Fall WildflowersThis is also the time of year when the woods and fields are full of goldenrods, boneset, ironweed, joe-pye-weed, sunflowers, and asters. I once tried to learn the names of the various asters that grow in our area, but I found it much too daunting. There are dozens of species, and I have a great admiration for botanists who can tell them apart. Like most people, however, I am happy to simply appreciate their delicate beauty and leave identification to the experts. Goldenrods are also some of my favorite wildflowers. It's too bad goldenrod gets such a bad rap and blamed for seasonal allergies, because the pollen from these striking yellow flowers is not usually the culprit for everyone's sneezing. Instead, you can blame a lot of that on ragweed, which is prolific this time of year and has pollen that is transported by the wind, not by bees, as goldenrod pollen is.
Cool MorningsI mentioned the cool nights but would be amiss to not add that the cool mornings of September are just as wonderful. Finally, after three months of miserable sweating during my morning runs, I can enjoy a run that doesn't leave me looking like I just stepped out of the shower! Add to that the fact that the morning sun is now lower in the sky and just starting to peek through the treetops as I do my warm-up, and you couldn't ask for a better month to do a little outdoor morning exercise.
|Venus shining brightly in the east just before sunrise.|
GreensFinally, with the cooler weather, we can also grow things like lettuce and greens again! Our fall garden isn't much, but if I have a bed of greens and lettuce, I really don't need much more. I know a lot of folks love growing tomatoes, but for this gal, nothing beats some spinach and kale. If I could find a place where I could grow that year-round, I would seriously have to consider living there.
The End of SummerI don't love winter, but I really don't love summer. Maybe it is because I spent so many summers working in the woods and being a pin cushion for every critter that bites or stings. Maybe it is because I don't like to sweat (who does?). But mostly, I think it is because the long days of summer always leave me feeling exhausted. As September comes to an end, I almost feel like I can take a sigh of relief. The gardening is nearly over, soon the grass will not need to be mowed, and the kids are actually starting to fall asleep at their regular bedtime hour now that the nights are longer and they aren't being tempted by evening sunlight beaming through their window. September feels like an in-between time during which we have a chance to gather our thoughts and shake off the dust from what is often a weary summer. The period of rest is ahead, and September reminds us of that ever so gently.