I am beginning to come round to the idea that September has a lot going for it. Being a March birthday, with its timing at the end of winter and heralding longer days and warmer weather, I was always a spring afficionado.
I realise I am probably late in coming to this particular party; not for the first time either. A friend recently lent me a copy of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal – a study in how end of life care is carried out in the US by an Asian American doctor. As soon as I had read it I discovered that nearly everyone whose opinions I value had read it ages ago. Better late than never, she sighed.
So I know there are millions of people out there who cherish the shift that September brings: the cooler mornings, the last few blackberries on the bushes that can still be safely picked and eaten before the devil spits on them on Michaelmas Day.
There is also the joy of the ‘Indian summer’, a taste of which I am enjoying today. It is a shame that each year during the August summer holidays the weather manages to be as contrary and unreliable as possible, yet come September 1st, everything warms up for a last hurrah, just in time for term starting.
Mellow fruitfulness does not end with the blackberries; our raspberry plants are having a late fruiting – just delicious – and last week I had the good fortune to walk past one of my neighbours as she was unloading her car with the latest produce from her allotment. The next moment I staggered home bearing a marrow, kale, chard, rhubarb and apples. Just to keep up the tradition that ‘exchange is no robbery’, which was one of my father’s bon mots, I trotted back down to her house later that day with a jar of my greengage jam, still hot from the preserving pan. Before you ask, the greengages came from the tree of another neighbour, who had sent out a plea on our street app offering fruit to anyone who could take it.
This time, unsurprisingly, September is tinged with a faint sense of anxiety; will my Covid vaccinations protect me sufficiently once I enter more confined spaces? How do I feel about physically returning to my Italian class which has been held on Zoom for months? With the wedding of a close family member just weeks away, what steps should I take to keep as safe as possible so that the lateral flow test that we will all take on the morning of the event shows a negative result?
As someone who has had a home office for the last 30 years, I sympathise with people having to make these sorts of decisions in relation to returning to their workplace. I read today that some of the large City companies are offering inducements such as a free breakfast to entice their employees back to the office. Apparently one of them is also offering candy floss and popcorn – work that one out if you can, and then please explain to me how this is desirable in any shape or form.
Chard or candy floss? Answers on a postcard.