September’s Memory


September 2002


“April,” wrote T.S. Elliot in his poem The Wasteland is the “cruelest month; breeding lilacs of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”


But in Vermont the cruelest month may be August.


While April’s pain is in the promise, the pain of August is found in recollection.


In August our spring time energies lie spent and mostly unfulfilled. In August the hot days finally slow us down, while in the dusty heat of afternoon the locusts sing their annual message of melancholy: “This summer passed us by more swiftly than last.”


Now comes September and we Vermonters face the cruelest truth of all.


God is about to give us a glimpse of heaven. She is about to remind us that there is a possibility for happiness that (as Robert Frost said “we somehow haven’t to deserve.”) for in the dying of the great North American hardwoods there comes the planet’s most glorious moment—an explosion of brilliant reds and golds set agains the green of fir and pine and canopied by the sharp blue of the autumn sky.


September is a prelude to that moment. In September there remains a residual warmth in the land, soaked up by the sod since early June. Clear air drifts down from Canada brushing away the August heat. From the valley grassed to the high hills of home one senses the coming of a death to be survived.


For as September fades there we will know again the sadness of perfect job, a land warm enough to snuggle into, a sky crisp enough to breath—all enwrapped in our most desperate longing, an instant so pure it will never end.


As August is melancholy, therefore, September is anticipation. The hot golden afternoons, the sharp evening shade and the cold wet of dawn foretell days so intensely beautiful that (as with the purest moments of love) there is little to do with them but weep.


But all this will come later. For now what better time to recall together the haunting lyrics from the play, The Fantastics, as they tell us that deep in December it will be nice to remember the fires of September that make us mellow.


The dark days of winter will too soon be upon us. Let us now rejoice in living September’s memory.