September in New England

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“Sunrise, September 2, 2022, North Hero, Vermont” by Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

If March comes in like a lion (as it usually does in Vermont), then I suppose you could say September comes in like a breath of fresh air.

But in New England, September isn’t a month. It’s an event, a change. And it can take place anytime from early August to the last weeks of, well, September.

It’s not a matter of turning a page on the calendar. It has nothing to do with school buses returning to the roads. It’s not because the summer folk leave for home after Labor Day, only to return briefly in mid-October.

“Sunset Spiderweb, September 1, 2022, North Hero, Vermont” by Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

And despite how children have drawn autumnal scenes from time immemorial, most of the leaves won’t change color for another month.

September starts when the long, hot, still summer days–the “dog days” of August–roll over and play dead. The humidity drops, taking with it the last of the lazy, hazy crazy days of summer. A cool, fresh breeze blows in from the west, ushering in fall.

Meteorologists would say this is just another cold front. But then, they call September through November meteorological autumn, knowing full well that autumn doesn’t officially start until the autumnal equinox on September 22.

For the rest of us, autumn doesn’t start until the leaves start–yes, falling. That might be around the equinox–dry conditions stressed the trees this year. Sometimes it’s sooner. Often it’s later. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

Until then, we call it September. And this year, it coincided with the turning of the month.

That’s worth noting on the calendar.

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