Song for September
So, I’m feeling a little tiny bit attached right now. September is a 30 day spree of perfection and each new brushstroke of yellow in the trees is a reminder of how fast it’s slipping away. There are the garden tomatoes that quietly turn from orange to crimson overnight. There’s the summer squash flaunting yellow-skirted flowers, teasing the 40 degree nights. Or the September sunlight itself, offering up a buffet of succulent choices: Ride bikes? Play at the river? Hike through the patchwork quilt of colorful oaks while Col loads his pockets with “special” rocks and Rose begs to sample every wild berry?
Oh and the fruit fly experiment taking place in our kitchen? It’s like tenth grade chemistry class without all the flirtatious notes sneaking around. Those wobbly-winged specks teeter around our bowls of fruit, searching out a tiny crease in a tomato’s pleather-y red skin. Col caught me trying to crush the little insects between the slap of my hands. “Why are you doing that Mama?” My innocent four year old asked. Telling your child that you’re trying to kill something because it’s bothersome makes all that parental jabbering about how we don’t even point a pretend gun at anyone and furthermore only kill animals we’re going to eat, sound like a certain former president’s vacuous sound bytes. And the whole death-lesson only got weirder because right then a bird thumped into our window and we ran downstairs to see if we could help save its precious life, after y’know, casually murdering fruit flies. It was an evening grosbeak, who with its rollicking yellow posse spent the last month stripping our chokecherry tree from top to bottom like an upended ear of corn.
I was moving the stunned bird to a high spot where our elderly cat couldn’t take advantage of an easy target, perhaps balancing out some sticky karma when Col caught a grasshopper. He promptly carried the winged insect to the chicken coop to dangle in front of the hens’ beaks. “That’s such a treat for them, isn’t it Mama? Those chickens say thank you to me.” Okay. Apparently Col can live with some contradictions.
My mother tells me she keeps waiting to forward this blog to some of her more squeamish friends, because of all this dead animal talk. And here I did it again. Truthfully, I think death is sort of a water-cooler topic amongst the four year set; death, poops and boobs seem to come up quite a bit around here. Col asked me the other night at dinner, “what does it feel like to be eaten?” “What made you think of that honey?” I stalled. “I just thought of it with my own head.” I gave him another weird politician-skirting-the-issue answer, explaining that it was a really big question and most animals are dead before being eaten like you know when a lion kills a deer by pouncing on it and breaking its neck or a coyote shakes a squirrel to death, except of course that grasshopper you fed the chickens was alive and does that answer your question honey? Col nodded and ate another bite of elk steak. Contradictions, indeed.
There’s a frost brewing in the air tonight, so say the meteorologists. We’ve got all our old sheets and towels and blankets waiting like an eager military troop to come in and shelter our tender garden vegetables.
Here’s what I’m already missing about September: