Early Autumn and Golden Apples
I love September. And I guess I hate it just a little, too.
Not entirely certain when this started. I imagine it was sometime after what I call my Summer of The Lord of the Rings. You know, about the point where you read Frodo always felt like going on adventure in the fall of the year. And I can remember looking out the window and considering it for a long time–maybe in some ways I still am.
I like spring for adventuring, I thought, when everything is new and I can’t wait to get out of the house and go running through the cool grass and feel the dew between my toes and my hot breath coming ragged out of my lungs in the air that’s still cold on my skin.
Alright, so maybe I wasn’t so poetic at the time. You get the point.
After that, I started to understand what he meant. Sure, in springtime you have all summer to wander over your adventure if it goes too long. But fall, ever since then, maybe before and I can’t remember, has made me a little crazy. The coolness in the air. The wondering if I started walking, just walking one day, when the sun went down where I would wind up. If I’d keep going, all the way back to the sea, or if I’d go home, and where that would be.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring.
I’ve never done it. But I’ve always thought about it, every year. Sometimes every day.
And besides going or not going on adventure, there are other things I love about September.
Frodo’s birthday is September 22 (is it on your calendar yet? It is on mine!). And while I’ve never been to the Oxonmoot festival, someday perhaps I will and celebrate the day in fine Hobbit style, back in the beautiful country where the story began. And I like to remember my Hobbit friends just the same, wherever I am.
It’s almost time to break out the sweaters again. I have a worrying cardigan habit. But unfortunately, it’s still too hot where I live for anything remotely fuzzy. Pity.
I named a character in a short story September. Just because. The way it sounds. What it means. The feel of the word. Blue jewels and scarlet leaves. The number seven. Romans making a calendar and ostentatiously naming everything after themselves.
The last fireflies. I don’t have words to explain this. Just go outside. Sorry if you get mosquito bites. I always do, too.
Waiting for the first leaves to turn so you can go stomping through them and collecting a bouquet of all the brightest colors, Autumn’s own flowers (am I the only one who does this? It feels like it when I’m carrying a bouquet of colored leaves on a walk and getting odd “she’s just a special kind of person” pacifying looks from suburban dwellers.).
The apples are ripe in September. You haven’t truly lived life if you don’t know what it’s like to climb and apple tree and eat your first fresh apple of fall sitting in its branches, tasting of wild earth and thievery and sweet juice and a little dirt. They’re the best that way. And apple picking itself–I was always the climber, so I got the fun of picking the apples at the top and chucking them down at everyone below.
Now that’s a fun job.
And there would always be one–I don’t know how–that would be just where you almost couldn’t reach it, just where your fingertips could brush, bathed in golden September sunlight, as ripe and fat and beautiful as you could hope for. The Apple. It hangs in every tree. It hung in trees for for my mom when she picked fruit at my age, and it’ll be there a hundred years from now, and in every story in between.
Everyone knows about The Apple. Even if they’ve never seen it.
And tonight, somewhere, there’s a man unpacking a bag full of apples he picked off those same trees I climbed last year in all their rosy, bruised, worm-marked glory. I wonder who he shared them with. I wonder if he’s eaten one yet. I wonder if The Apple showed up for him today, too.
It isn’t September until I’ve tasted one of those apples (and could explain why I’ve been craving fresh apples lately, even if they are bought). So I guess for me, it isn’t September yet. But with my maddening, careening life, I’m afraid it won’t be September for a while. I seem to have been quite carried off in the rush, unable to dig my feet in the earth and go where I will.
Last year might have been my last September, at least from those trees, anyway. I don’t know if I’ll get to go back again.
Then again, you never know what might happen.
It’s September, after all.
There’s magic in the air.