As someone born in the month of September, I’ve always had a special spot in my heart for this exact time of year: the yawning final days of summer, the first cool breaths of autumn breezes.
To me, it feels more like the steward of a new year than January ever will. September is adorned with green leaves that are beginning to curl in on themselves, touching their stems one last time before they change to wholly different leaves, crisp, bright ones that finally get to touch the ground after a summer of casting shade to thankful walkers below.
In September, everything feels new in the way that you’ve known it was coming, and you’ve been waiting for it, but it surprises you anyway. Here are some of the surprises I’ve been sitting with, and growing into, this month.
Taking one literature course a semester is how I stay sane in my graduate studies, where I find myself inundated with questions of social science and crushed that no one seems to want to hear about metaphors anymore! In a class focused on ecofiction and memory studies, I’ve been swimming in the waters of writing on climate and interspecies relationships, and come into an intriguing line of questioning about the knowledge sharing practices and experiences we consider uniquely human, that may not be. I’ve been thinking so much, in ways entirely new to me, about the way information and lessons move and come back in waves with the tides of community interest.
Some of my favorites so far have been: Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals and The Hungry Tide.
Brian Doyle’s One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder
I’ve recently accepted being a wonder-ridden person. It’s incredibly easy to feel like you’re easily abstracted, or absent-minded, when you follow your curiosities–which sometimes means putting the previous curiosity down. I read the spectacular Brian Doyle’s book of essays, One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder, a few years ago and have found the feelings it captures always return to me in the fall. Doyle’s amazement with the miniscule is certainly religious and almost inhuman–written as if by someone who had never experienced the daily habits we build in and the trees we walk past. His notes on wonder make me feel better about taking pictures of the leaves turning, and deciding I want to start crocheting again, even if it means I probably won’t reteach myself to sew this month.
From his essay, “The Final Frontier:”
“That is what I know: that the small is huge, that the tiny is vast, that pain is part and parcel of the gift of joy, and that this is love, and then there is everything else. You either walk toward love or away from it with every breath you draw. Humility is the road to love. Humility, maybe, is love. That could be. I wouldn’t know; I’m a muddle and a conundrum shuffling slowly along the road, gaping in wonder, trying to see and say what is, trying to leave shreds and shards of ego along the road like wisps of litter and chaff.”
There’s no (time for) crying in baseball
I grew up in a family where long sports were favored. Sundays were often quiet, except for the fuzzy sounds of golf announcers coming from the basement. There were football games in the fall and sometimes baseball games at my grandma’s: these were the winding events I rolled my eyes at and found something else to do during my childhood. I attended my first baseball game this month, and was incredulous at how quickly it went by. Even with the sun beating down on us, it felt like the time it took us to walk over to the field was equal to the time we spent watching the teams move across the diamond to the tune of cheering. However, it was revealed to me during the game that they changed the rules of baseball. Pitchers can no longer stand at the mound, drawing the attention of the crowd for long as they want. According to CBS Sports, they have 15 seconds if the bases empty and 20 seconds if there are runners.
There’s a metaphor there somewhere, but America’s pastime is passing faster now, and for some reason, this was disappointing to me. Growing up, I couldn’t wait for the games to end, and now, I felt myself wishing I could spend a little more time in the sun, high-fiving people I just met.
Baking, or, The Dream To
I’m currently on a self-assigned journey to make the most comforting banana bread possible, which is a few feats rolled into one considering: I don’t have a huge amount of time to dedicate to this goal, I’m not a particularly intuitive baker, and I have an unwavering streak of perfectionism when it comes to trying new things. Focusing on one dish, though, getting to know it, and asking family members and friends, has been such a sweet, surprisingly fun way to spend a few evenings a month.
The Unwritten Book: An Investigation
I recommended this book to our very own Sarah Gulliford (Kearns) and included it in a one-liners that was sent out a while back, but I’ve been slowly working through it again in quiet moments after classes this month. Hunt’s prose is illuminating and confusing and pokes at the boundaries of genres so easily. I think its an especially relevant read, as we face attempted limitations on knowledge sharing through book bans and question the morality assigned to reading. In this vein, my favorite lines from Hunt are:
“The desire for bodies is rooted in our mortality. The desire for books shared a similar fevered passion with our decomposition. We will never be able to read all the books or love all the bodies. We feel the comfort of our smallness, our minerals, our parts."
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