Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thirty Days Hath September

"September: it was the most beautiful of words, he’d always felt, evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regret."
-   Alexander Theroux, 1981
For many of us, the start of the school year is more significant, new beginnings-wise, than January 1. Like all fresh starts, though, it's made from equal quantities of hope and fear.
Remember the gray-plaid top you thought looked autumnal and lent an air of sophistication? You wore it the first day of junior high, but the cool kids showed up in frayed jeans and sun-bleached tee shirts. Turns out they didn't buy back-to-school clothes. 
Maybe you unearthed a retro lunch box at a thrift shop and carried it to high school only to discover the nostalgia bus had left that station months earlier.
Time mutes our embarrassing memories and accentuates the positive ones. That's fortunate since we have to get our own kids out the door and onto the school bus. 
The expectations that come with new beginnings can be harder to hoist than a sixth-graders' backpack, which, according to a Consumer Reports' survey, weighs 18.4 pounds. Maybe those kids who came to school in frayed jeans and sun-bleached tee shirts were on to something. They stretched out summer and embraced fall when they were ready for it. 
Come September, we're programmed to start over, but we don't have to succumb. Let's finish the projects we toiled over during the summer. Let's keep what works and replace only what doesn't. Life isn't a timed test, and there are no pop quizzes coming when you least expect them. 
If you have no desire to start a new project, reinvent yourself, or buy number two pencils, cut yourself slack. Current events and the anniversary of 9/11 weigh us down. What's more, the coming autumn equinox and prospect of more darkness per day can squelch ambition in those of us most sensitive to atmospheric changes.
I like Alexander Theroux's quote at the top of the page because it nails September's mixed message. In my part of the world, September evokes dry-erase markers, crepe myrtles in defiant bloom, and, yes, regret.
What does September mean to you?


Anonymous said...

Hi Pat,

September always reminds me of the new school year and always generated a lot of excitement in me. Not sure if the excitement was academic or social - but who cares?

You remember no doubt the beautiful Septembers we have here -although yesterday was 95 degrees -hopefully we'll have more autumn like weather the next days.

- Patrick

Lark Howard said...

September is my birthday month--the 12th my birth day--so I tend to see it as the start of a new year. Some years my birthday has been horrible--the day after 9/11 when no one wanted to celebrate anything and the year Ike hit on the 12th.

Still, the promise of fall weather is rejuvenating after months of Houston's heat. Makes me want to do something new and daring and maybe a little reckless!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patrick,
I wish you many days of autumn-like weather. I'm jealous!

Hope this school year's a good one for you. Did you accept the position at Montclair State? That campus is glorious in the fall.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Happy Birthday, Lark! I have a feeling this year will be very good to you.

If you do something reckless, I hope you blog about it here.

Liz Flaherty said...

There's always something exciting about September. I'm not sure whether it's school or football or just how good everything smells. But I did laugh at myself on Sunday. I looked at my white capris in real consternation; after all, it was after Labor Day. Was white still okay? Don't know what threw me back into that particular time, but it was fun coming out of it. And wearing white capris to church.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Liz,
I'm glad you wore your white capris to church. I'm even gladder we've thrown out the "rules" about when and where we could wear white slacks and shoes, patent-leather-shoes, and other things. (I don't remember any more things; that's how bad I was at following the so-called rules in the first place.)

Enjoy September!

Coleen Patrick said...

September always feels like a new start, the chance to try again. There's the break in weather--not so hot. I love to see the trees change colors. And September is the month my oldest was born. Good times. :)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

The birthday months of those we love are special, indeed, Coleen. Celebrate, enjoy the cooler weather, and take photos of trees changing colors for those of us in in warm-weather zones.

Alarna Rose Gray said...

I love the change in the seasons. For me, autumn offers sweet relief from the heat...and I always welcome the first refreshing rain. It's the winter that I actually enjoy before winter comes :) But here in the southern hemisphere, it's the other way round. Spring. Blessed spring... a chance to start afresh and reinvent indeed! I'm itching to clean out the garage :)

Karen McFarland said...

For me September seems a better month to start afresh rather than dingy January. I like autumn. I like the fact that we get to change the color of our clothes like fallen leaves. Time to pull out the sweaters and jeans. We can shut off the air-conditioners and open up our windows. There's a freshness or crispness in the air. Yep, I love it! Aha! I found ya! And thank you for all the encouragement Pat! :)