I wrote this several years ago, September is now a lovely month which transitions from summer to the next season – and this year it has been a wonderful transition!
When I was a child the beginning of September was when we went on holiday, always to the same holiday camp which I’m sure was the basis for the sitcom ‘Hi-Di-Hi’ but where we always had great fun. I guess it was the most inexpensive place to go, and the end of season the cheapest time to go. So I always thought of September as a month to look forward to.
September was, however, the end of the school holidays, and I loved school holidays, the freedom to do whatever I wanted, or nothing at all! I quite liked school, and I never minded going back and seeing my friends, and starting on a new year of studying different things… but that holiday freedom, that’s what I loved. When I went to Manchester Poly to do my degree, the summer holidays were even longer; I always got a holiday job to get enough money to go camping in France for the last few weeks, and we would usually come home in those first couple of September weeks, home and back to college.
Then I started work; for a couple of years I did different things, but then decided teaching might offer more opportunities to work abroad which is what I really wanted to do. Of course teaching meant long summer holidays, and for the first few years working in a school in Manchester, much as I loved the summers usually spent in France, I did quite like coming back to work and meeting up with colleagues and students I liked.
However, as the years went by, and more and more administrative work was imposed on teachers over and above all the preparation and marking they did for their students, I became more and more unhappy in my work and by the time summer holidays came we teachers were just about on our knees… don’t imagine we worked from nine to three-thirty, more like eight until six and then work at home too, plus working over the weekends… I’m not wanting sympathy, that was the way it was – and is even more now! So holidays, summer holidays were the saving grace but as September approached, so did a feeling of almost anxiety. However much planning and preparation had been done in August, that first pre-school week in September was just a mad rush to get everything finished, and usually go into school before the students started and sort out the classroom and other tasks.
Having children changed my life again, but my husband still worked so early September continued to be the dread time of anticipation of the new year ahead… and still it was not the colleagues, or the students, but the work load and the ridiculous amount of admin and form filling. We moved to the west country and I got a fantastic new job, working in a unit with young people which allowed more flexibility, huge amounts of preparation, but less admin – less waste-of-time form filling. However, those damned administrative tasks came creeping in to our unit…
Four years ago I was liberated; I gave up teaching and now I write full-time… and hurrah!! September, that glorious month can be celebrated and appreciate.
It’s September, and the orchards are afire with red and gold,
And the nights with dew are heavy, and the morning’s sharp with cold;
Now the garden’s at its gayest with the salvia blazing red
And the good old-fashioned asters laughing at us from their bed;
Once again in shoes and stockings are the children’s little feet,
And the dog now does his snoozing on the bright side of the street.
It’s September, and the cornstalks are as high as they will go,
And the red cheeks of the apples everywhere begin to show;
Now the supper’s scarcely over ere the darkness settles down
And the moon looms big and yellow at the edges of the town;
Oh, it’s good to see the children, when their little prayers are said,
Duck beneath the patchwork covers when they tumble into bed.
It’s September, and a calmness and a sweetness seem to fall
Over everything that’s living, just as though it hears the call
Of Old Winter, trudging slowly, with his pack of ice and snow,
In the distance over yonder, and it somehow seems as though
Every tiny little blossom wants to look its very best
When the frost shall bite its petals and it droops away to rest.
It’s September! It’s the fullness and the ripeness of the year;
All the work of earth is finished, or the final tasks are near,
But there is no doleful wailing; every living thing that grows,
For the end that is approaching wears the finest garb it knows.
And I pray that I may proudly hold my head up high and smile
When I come to my September in the golden afterwhile.
Edgar Albert Guest
b 1881 Birmingham, England – 1959 Detroit, Michigan