I’m so excited that it’s September, my favorite month next to October. If I were in charge, I’d make September the time to begin a new year. The air is softer, the sky is bluer; the water sparkles in the mellow sun, not making us squint as it does in July. (Well, maybe not THIS July, but in other NORMAL Julys.) There is lushness, abundance, fewer tourists and mosquitoes.

Here in Maine, September is the best of summer with overtones of fall.

The cool evening breeze lifts the curtains as I arrange pink-tinged hydrangea in a pitcher, then wash vegetables straight from my garden for supper. These days, my evening meal often consists of homegrown tomatoes and an ear of sweet corn, with an early tart apple for dessert.

Our family swaps the produce from our home gardens and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), putting together impromptu potlucks of roasted beet salad, sliced cucumbers, homemade bread, goat cheese and blackberries dusted with sugar.
We make jam and pickles, pesto, salsa and spaghetti sauce. I cut the rhubarb yet again to make a crisp and plant a few more hopeful rows of lettuce and peas, keeping a close watch on the pumpkins and squash. I pull a carrot, brush the dirt off on my jeans and crunch it down. I dry herbs and for the first time gather plump, burnished rose hips to dry for tea. My immune system will so appreciate it in the winter months that lay ahead.

Fortunately, it’s not yet time to put away the kayaks and bathing suits. Michael and I sit with the calendar and Gazetteer, plotting out more territory to explore that includes a camping trip to one of our favorite state parks, a four-day weekend to Matinicus Island and a Saturday expedition to Step Falls in Newry. Can we fit in a visit to the Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay? What about that much-anticipated pilgrimage to Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill? We’ll squeeze in the gardens and pencil in the trip to New Hampshire in October when our favorite season will be in all its long-awaited glory.

Just after Labor Day our little Lucy will be 3 years old. As golden brown as toast and frequently sporting pink or blue polish on her toes, she spends nearly every waking hour at the beach. I don’t want to tell her these days are numbered for this year. I go to Sears to shop for school clothes for my grandson, Addison who has started first grade. How could this once-small, freckle-faced boy with the long legs and Dennis the Menace grin be turning 6 years old this month?

We’re all more regretful to say good-bye to summer than usual. It was so abbreviated and so very soggy. The majority of the sunshine was condensed into a few brief shining moments in August. I’m grateful my garden escaped the blight and can now laugh at the Weekend of the Earwig Invasion, the unwelcome appearance of a lake in my basement and the ring of mildew that suddenly appeared on the bathroom ceiling.

I put those episodes out of my mind and recall the high spots, which included picnicking with my grandchildren, kayaking on Clary Lake with my sweetie and dipping into the ocean with my daughter and son-in-law on a star-filled night.

As the warm weather wanes, we roast marshmallows and stop for ice cream at every opportunity. We spend more weekends at the lake. So many good memories … but now we look forward to eloquent beauty, to summer’s swan song, to our sweet September.

Karen Schneider is a freelance writer living in West Bath. She may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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