In September the earthy smell of dry corn stalks and withered peavines saturates the air as Mom searches the little hills along the potato rows in her garden with her shovel for the red tubers that miraculously reappear each year. Along the fence row the pungent aroma of tall sunflowers, whose cheerful yellow faces are rapidly giving way to the onslaught of autumn, adds to the certainty that summer days are over. Mom knows that this luminous September day, on which she can see forever through the translucent atmosphere of early Indian Summer, is a fickle harbinger, first of frost that will blacken her beautiful scarlet dahlias and her rows of multi-hued gladiolus, then of the frigid Wyoming winter. Soon, cold weather will drive everyone inside to a warm fire in the coal stove after doing all the necessary chores.
The year on Mom's wall calendar begins with January, but the calendar in her head begins with September. In September the summer's harvest is nearly over and the anxiety over the sugar beet harvest and the wheat and barley crops is about to end for another year. In September the children are all back in school and the annual crisis of outfitting everyone in new shoes and blouses and skirts and socks and Levi's and coats and underwear has passed for another year. Just don't ask where Mom finds the money to buy everything. And then, on top of those worries, now comes the monthly cafeteria expense, the new school supplies--crayons, notebooks, notebook paper, protractors (be sure you get the right one), and gym gear--and the notes from teachers saying studens must have this or that. "Oh well," she thinks, "At least I won't have to feed all six kids for lunch every day."
A raucous magpie lands on a nearby fencepost as Mom continues her search for enough potatoes to store in the cellar to last the winter. The neat rows of newly canned bottles of peaches, pears, applesauce, string beans, peas, tomatoes, corn, and strawberry jam already line the shelves in the dark, dank, moldy-smelling cellar. "Go away, you stupid magpie," she tells the black-and-white-plumed scavenger. "Take your noisy self somewhere else. If you were a meadowlark, you could stay all day." Flocks of ducks pause in Penrose to glean the remaining kernels of grain left in the golden stubble of the wheat and barley fields before entering the flyways once more. The welcome sounds of a flock of Canadian geese penetrate the still September air. Mom watches the rhythmic movement of their majestic wings and listens to their cheerful honking sounds as the migrating birds talk to one another in their secret language. She watches as members of the flock take turns leading the "V" while navigating through the heavens in a symmetrical formation, headed toward their warmer destination.
To be continued . . .