September 12 is much too early for winter, even here in southeastern Wisconsin. The weather changed night before last, driving rain and wind through my open windows. Only a light coverlet lay on the bed. I was too sleepy to fetch a blanket. Instead, I curled up into a tight ball. If I’d had a tail, I would have draped it over my nose. Alas, no tail. No wonder my toes were freezing!
This year is moving too fast for me. For goodness sakes, the asters, sunflowers and goldenrod are blooming everywhere, and only two days ago, a fat little hummingbird zoomed into the trumpet vine. Summer was here just last weekend. Please, year, slow down. I can’t face the long months of ice and snow yet.
Not that the year is going to pay one bit of attention to my request — so I’ll have to make my peace with it somehow. Memories might help. Perhaps it’s the light, but September seems like a memory month. As a child in France, I started school every year in mid-September. The first day of school, my mother always took pictures of my sisters and me in the garden. The pictures charted our growing up from children to young girls to young women — only years seemed to go more slowly then. I remember excitement mixed with dread of new beginnings, as we waited for the camera click. And I remember the autumn mornings, how soft the light was, and how the flowers were drooping under heavy dew.
Later on, September meant returning to college and graduate school, and the same excitement and dread filled me. For, you see, when school reopened, my real world came alive again. School was the place where words spun threads of gold between thought and feeling, and images, forms and colors hung in the air. Would I be ready to receive their gifts and challenges this year?
That was a long time ago, but September still brings the same feeling of beginnings. Words, stories and images entrance my soul as much as ever. Only now I see them knit into life itself, with all its messiness and glory, sorrow and promise, pain and joy. Maybe this winter, when the snow is falling and the pavement is treacherous with ice, I will draw a little closer to Life as I work with words and stories — other people’s, as well as my own — and discover images through paint, paper, silk and thread.
And the snow and ice will be filled with them.