What Does September Mean to You?

autumn leaves

Here it is September, my favourite month. Is it because it’s the month of my birth? I don’t know. Maybe, but it’s certainly not the only reason. Though it’s a busy month with school starting and people back to work after the long days of summer, I notice myself easing into a peaceful, reflective state of mind. How beautiful is John Keats’ opening line to his “Ode to Autumn“–Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

I think of the song Try to Remember…”the kind of September when life was slow and oh so mellow,” and “without a hurt the heart is hollow.” (Oh, how true.) Harry Belafonte’s singing is so tender that I’m teary. You too?


What’s September without a mention of school? I’ve always thrived on learning, whether in school or out. I’m grateful for wonderful teachers who inspired me. From Miss Dorothy Gilmour in grade two at Second Street Elementary, who recognized my “star quality” and made me Mother Rabbit in “the Adventures of Peter Rabbit” 🙂 , to Ms. Ruth Eldredge in grade 12 at Burnaby South Senior Secondary, who awakened in me a passion for literature.

J.W. Waterhouse's interpretation of Tennyson's Lady of ShallotInspiring teachers helped me to realize my life’s calling, to become a teacher myself. For many years I taught secondary English. I still smile when I recall a 15 year old boy, looking over his shoulder to be sure no one else heard him, tell me that The Lady of Shalott was his “#1 favourite poem.” My favourite to teach was Shakespeare. Students’ acting out scenes in class was the “funnest” thing of all.

Now, years after an early retirement, I’m delighted to work one-on-one, tutoring the teenage kids of Chinese friends of mine.

Summer to Autumn

September is more than half “summer” (the fall equinox lands on the 23rd this year), but I always associate the month with autumn. Changes are dramatic and seem to be sudden, yet it’s like they move to an unhurried beat.

There’s something about this transition time that refocuses me. It’s like carefree days are over (did I have any of those this past summer?) and it’s time to get on with the more “serious,” as in basic, business of living. Rather than a light white wine, it’s time for a full-bodied red.

Shift in Weather 

Autumn's slanted lightSummer-yellowed grass returns to green. Once green leaves now turn to yellow. Here on Vancouver Island, it’s a mixed bag. The rains have come back, washing away summer’s dust, and some days are as sunny and blue-skied as mid-July. Either way, there’s a chilled edge in the air. Time to add some layers, cook and eat some homemade soup and throw another blanket or two on one’s bed.

Shift in Light

Have you noticed the change in light? It’s like light is thinner now and slanted. The sun is lower, more distant and detached; shadows are longer. As night approaches, the “light thickens.” Such a fascinating image that is, from Shakespeare (Macbeth). It makes no rational sense, of course, but it’s imaginative, poetic sense resonates with me. I picture thick black clouds, swirling together (like thickening gravy) to bring on darkness.

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" John Keats, To AutumnDue to the changes in the light’s rays, colours change. On the West Coast (of Canada) we generally don’t have the same kind of cold as Eastern Canada, where scarlet is a predominant colour for the fall. Yes, we do have some flaming red (Japanese maples and Virginia Creeper, for example), but predominant for us are the golds and oranges and browns.

A shift in light is part of the internal clock of fruits, vegetables and grains. The quality of rays necessary for any continued growth is declining, which means it’s time to be mature and it’s time to be harvested.


blackberriesWhere I live, one crop is still moderately plentiful in September, blackberries. Some are tasty but gritty due to extra big seeds; some are dry and small like raisins, and others are so ripe they’ve fermented on the vine.

Arachnids, aka Spiders

Night time’s earlier arrival brings to mind another phenomenon of fall—an “exodus,” except it’s from the outside to the inside. Spiders like our houses.

spider web shimmering with dewSpiders freak me out sometimes, like in the night when I need to turn a light on. There one is—big (or small), black (or brown), scurrying like crazy to hide.

I don’t like spiders, nor do I hate them. In an odd way, I’ve come to respect them. I marvel at their creativity and their purposefulness, as determined and deadly as it is! Do they possess much, if any, intelligence? I don’t know, but they seem to.

Their webs intrigue me—intricate, delicate, tenacious. Wind storm or downpour, the webs somehow manage to stay together in a recognizable state. Water droplets sometimes transform spiders’ webs into unusual prisms of light, so the webs can be beautiful too.

Will You Share?

I have shared some of my special September associations. I’d love to read what September means to you! There’s space in the comments section below. 🙂


By | 2017-05-28T18:37:20+00:00 September 8th, 2015|Blogs with Music Featured, Music, Nature, Quotes & Pretty Pictures|34 Comments

About the Author:

Ramona McKean is creating a "Bridge of Light" (aka “a Bridge of the Heart”) to promote cross-cultural appreciation and awareness. An author and speaker, she lives in Victoria, BC, Canada.


  1. Anna September 9, 2015 at 11:14 am - Reply

    A return to routines. End of outdoor swimming for a time. Sweaters and leggings. No more searching for sunscreen. Easier outings in many ways.

    • Ramona September 9, 2015 at 11:48 am - Reply

      Sounds like a mix for you, Anna. I too find routine easier, especially when small kids are involved. Predictability may not be as exciting, but it has a specialness of its own–comfort and order. Hmm…reminds me of Bilbo Baggins. Adventure blew his orderly world apart, “just a little”!

      Who knows what’s in store for any of us? We can never know when “unpredictable” opportunities will present themselves. Nothing like opening the door with a “yes,” if one is able.

      A few days ago I was asked if I’d like to go to Tanzania in January. I said yes. Now I am wondering what I’ve gotten myself into! Thanks for writing, Anna.

  2. Haiwu September 9, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    I read your September, and feel I am in Canada, seeing the same color and light.

    • Ramona September 9, 2015 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      Haiwu, it is SO wonderful to receive your message! How is September for you in Fujian province, China? I hope all is well with you and your family. 我想念你们这么多!

  3. Dan McKean September 10, 2015 at 8:27 am - Reply

    September for me is a time of new beginnings. Summer is fading away and fall is quick to arrive. The days are noticeably shorter and a new school year is beginning. Since I’m a high school teacher, September is the start of new classes, often a time of shopping for new clothes and beginning new routines. Although January 1st is the New Year, it doesn’t have the same transition. In January the weather is already dark and cold and things seem to be relatively constant in my world.

    September also presents moments of summer’s endurance. Often milder weather arrives for a couple of days, but then the warm weather sneaks back for one last week or two, as if summer doesn’t want to leave Vancouver Island.


    • Ramona September 10, 2015 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Hi Dan,
      So great to have you share your thoughts! I like how you expressed September’s “presenting moments of summer’s endurance”; also, “the warm weather sneaks back for one last week or two, as if summer doesn’t want to leave Vancouver Island.” I recall school days in September when it was hard to be inside given the glorious summer sun outside. 🙂 Maybe this September will be like that too!

  4. Ken Dowell September 10, 2015 at 8:39 am - Reply

    September represents a fresh start. To me it feels more like the start of a new year than Jan. 1 does. I guess that’s leftover from going to school. I also think that in North America, September brings nice weather in more places than any other time of year.

    • Ramona September 10, 2015 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Hi Ken,
      Really great to hear from you! I feel exactly the same way about September. It is my fresh start, truly my New Year. (Having a b’day at the beginning of the month underscores this sense for me.) January 1st’s designation as New Years Day feels somewhat arbitrary, not real.

      I agree also about the niceness of the weather. I’ve found September to be a wonderful month for traveling, certainly fabulous all the places I’ve visited in Canada, USA and China.

      Thanks for writing. I hope all is well in your world!

  5. Xiao September 10, 2015 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Hi Ramona, I am truly infected by your vivid description about September. The fall is also my best favorite season. After reading your writing, I have a new impression of September now. New start, bright color and shifting scenery are meaningful presents in life. Let’s enjoy them together. Your excellent, responsible and professional teaching of teens is another good present in September. Thanks a lot.

    • Ramona September 10, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      Dear Xiao,
      Thank you for your lovely response! You are such a dear. Yes, let’s both enjoy the gifts of fall. 🙂
      As for your son and niece, I truly enjoy teaching them. Seeing their steady progress is rewarding. See you soon, and thank you again for reading my blog on September.
      Ramona (明心)

  6. John September 16, 2015 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    I like the way you have set the mood for this month and time of year. I hadn’t quite thought of it as deeply and richly as you have painted things here. You have helped put some more sweetness into this bittersweet time of year.

    I also really like that poem, The Lady of Shalott and just reread it now.

    • Ramona September 16, 2015 at 8:54 pm - Reply

      Hi John,
      I work carefully to set tone/mood in my blogs, so your affirmation on how I did is most appreciated! I also like your choice of “bittersweet.” Recently I read a quote about September’s beauty “arising from things dying.” Indeed, bittersweet.

      “The Lady of Shalott” is a masterpiece of sensitive, evocative writing. Pretty much everyone I know who’s familiar with the poem likes it very much.

      Thank you for your comments, John.

  7. Matt Hughes October 18, 2015 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Hello, Ramona:

    I came across your posting when I was looking to see if there were any internet mentions of Ruth Eldredge. She was my favourite teacher at South, way back in 1966, and she inspired me to become a writer. I used to drop in to see her occasionally until she retired and I’m sorry that I never made time to visit her after that. She was a wonderful, strong woman.

    • Ramona October 19, 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Matt, I’m so glad you came across my blog. All these years later, both you and I are paying tribute to a remarkable English teacher who influenced us both a great deal. I recall Sunday afternoons, for months, sitting in the basement library of Ruth’s home with several other students. She was helping us to prepare for Lit. 12 government scholarship exams. Ruth could be formidable, no namby-pamby person was she. I recall responding to one of her questions in what I guess must have been a “feeble” way. Ruth looked at me and snapped, “Ramona, you’ve got a good brain in your head. Use it!” Ah, yes…

      I managed to do well on the exam and in my first year at UBC, Ruth offered me a job–to mark English 11 Macbeth essays! I was 18 years old, only two years older than the grade 11 students. I marked the papers and she paid me, assuring me that she didn’t need to alter any comments or grades I’d given the students. It was a tremendous vote of confidence that I’ve never forgotten.

      Your response to my blog encouraged me to write more on Ms. Eldredge, who’s been gone for a long time now. She passed away from cancer and I can’t now recall the year–in the 90’s maybe. (She was about 80, I think.) I went to her memorial service, held at her home by another of her students, a former classmate of mine, who’d also participated in the same Sunday afternoon scholarship sessions. It was strange to look through Ruth’s library and choose a book as a keepsake. (I chose a W.B. Yeats anthology.) Here’s to a woman neither you nor I has forgotten.

      I appreciate your leaving a comment, Matt. I wish you the best with your writing career.

  8. L. L. Reynolds October 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    It’s been so long (too long. Been a little under the weather) since I’ve been to your blog and I LOVE what you’ve done with it! Fall is my favorite time of year. Thanks for sharing so much positivity. 🙂

    • Ramona October 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Lois, you’re a dear! Yes, I aim to be positive, and honest too. There’s far too much painful energy in the world, I find. You live in Vermont, yes? What a wonderful part of the world to be in during the fall season! Oh to enjoy the incredible, brilliant red leaves that you have. I sigh… 😉

  9. andleeb November 30, 2015 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I do not have much affiliation with September, but it reminds me of the time of the year, when we have to get back on track after summer holidays.
    Belated happy birthday to you.

    • Ramona November 30, 2015 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      Andleeb, your comment has got me thinking that maybe months/seasons affect people very differently, depending on where in the world they live. For me in Canada, September is late summer/early fall and it’s a time of natural dying, so to speak–coloured leaves dropping from deciduous trees to enrich the ground, as the trees prepare to go through winter. What country are you in and is there a season that arouses your spirit in a special way?

  10. Marquita Herald September 20, 2016 at 2:27 am - Reply

    Fall, in general, is definitely my favorite time of the year. My “world” has changed pretty drastically recently having moved from Maui to Oregon, so the things that I’ve always loved about fall – the cool mornings, changing of the leaves, etc., are suddenly magnified. Some of my friends are still scratching their heads wondering why on earth I would leave Maui. There is no question that it is a beautiful Island, but it was just time and that’s something you can’t explain to someone else, it’s something you feel in your heart. So here I am, enjoying September more than I have in years. This weekend, I’m going buy myself a flannel shirt and fluffy house slippers in joyous anticipation of the continued drop in temperature. 🙂

    • Ramona McKean September 20, 2016 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      “…in joyous anticipation of the continued drop in temperature”–I love it! 😉 In a funny way we’re neighbours. Though not too “close,” we’re still both on the West Coast. (I’m in Victoria, BC, to the north of you in Canada.) Where in Oregon do you live? Many years ago when my kids were young, we went on a wonderful camping trip in Washington and Oregon. I recall a magical place we happened to “stumble upon” called Bagby Hot Springs, in Mount Hood National Forest. We only got as far south as Eugene before heading to the coast then back northwards. I recall thinking that if I were an American, Oregon would be a nice place to live. So welcome back to the continent of North America. Thanks for writing.

  11. Catarina September 20, 2016 at 3:01 am - Reply

    Have to say that September doesn’t mean much to me. Just one birthday in the family and the beginning of autumn. This year however, we have had Indian Summer in Sweden with temperatures up to 30 degrees Celcius. Now it’s getting a bit cooler but it’s still the warmest September since the 1850s in our part of the world.

    • Ramona McKean September 20, 2016 at 11:07 pm - Reply

      Yes, that is warm! We had a glorious summer this year with some days up to 30 degrees C., then summer seemed to abruptly end early this month with much needed rain. Now we’re back to sunshine and blue skies. The temperature is a delightful “cool.”

  12. lenie September 20, 2016 at 5:19 am - Reply

    Ramona, this is so timely. Just last evening I was talking to one of my sons and we were saying September seems more like the New Year than January the first does and for all the reasons you mentioned. There is no real change from December 31st to January 1st – if it wasn’t for the hoopla surrounding it you would never recognize it.
    But with September you do have all Nature’s changes, the ‘thinning’ of the light as you call it, the change in the feel of the weather, and life returning to normal after what is often a busier, more casual time during the summer.
    September also seems the time to recharge and simply sit back and let life guide you.

  13. Phoenicia September 20, 2016 at 9:38 am - Reply

    September is one of my favourite times of the year. It is not too cold and I have an excuse to bring out one of my silk scarves for my neck.

    I tend to look back at how the year has been so far. I also focus on which goals I can move toward to the following year.

    • Ramona McKean September 20, 2016 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      I find it also a time of taking stock, so to speak. Perhaps we can call it a transitional time. I bet your scarf is pretty!

  14. Jeri September 20, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    September used to mean back to school and back to the classroom, but no more! The transition from summers off to back to long work weeks was never my favorite. Other than that, I probably most associate September with the shift in weather. I love it when it cools off and nights get colder. I sleep so much better, and then the days are still warm and pleasant.

    • Ramona McKean September 20, 2016 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      I feel the same as regards the weather. Whereabouts do you live, Jeri?

  15. Erica September 21, 2016 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Ramona, this post made me so nostalgic for my life on the east coast. We don’t have autumn where I live. It will be a high of 80 degrees today. And since we are experiencing a historic drought, we don’t have anything that is green. But I remember my earlier days of feeling the increasing chill in the air and watching the leaves turn. I don’t usually miss the seasons, but your post made me want to go back and spend a few days in autumn (or almost-autumn. I think it starts any day now.)

    • Ramona McKean September 21, 2016 at 4:03 pm - Reply

      I can only imagine how hard that must be. Many years ago I was in Quebec at the start of fall. Those reds–incredible! I live on the West Coast and we do have 4 seasons. Sure, not as spectacular as Eastern Canada or USA, but I’d miss them terribly if I lived in a place like, say, Arizona. Where do you live now?

  16. William Rusho September 23, 2016 at 8:31 am - Reply

    September is always a sad time for me. Winter is the majority factor where I live, the temps are sub zero, the snow never stops. So when summer ends, it means I am preparing for this long winter. On the other hand, September is the month before Halloween, so I can get through it.

    • Ramona McKean September 23, 2016 at 11:56 am - Reply

      William, you sound like a sensitive person. I am too. September is the proverbial bitter-sweet time for me. As daylight hours get markedly shorter and the air cooler, I’m visited with a kind of sadness too. I feel the need to pull within and nurture my spirit. I used to live in a place where winter was intense and long, Dawson Creek in North-eastern British Columbia. Two years of that climate was plenty enough. I moved to Vancouver Island after that and currently live in Victoria on the southern-most tip, where winters can be soggy and drab but not ever that cold. Take care, my online friend.

  17. Sushmita September 24, 2016 at 2:03 am - Reply

    September for us in Mumbai means festival and celebration time. We have festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi which bring colour and zing in the city with the splash of rain!

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