The month of September is the month that is par excellence, the month for the holiday maker. The days have not yet closed in, the skies are steady, the tourist crush has lessened, and one can begin to realise in the slight changes of colour on the higher fells, something of the glory that will be fully revealed in October. (p. 160)
The bracken, it is true, has not yet felt the frost, but the fellside farmers have been busy with their scythes for bedding, and the dead fern, before it is ‘gathered,’ lies golden red in patches. September is the month for bracken getting, and nothing more picturesque can be well imagined than this late harvest time of the wild fellside. The old white horse stands with its cart half filled with what at sunset time looks ruddy fire, and down from above comes a rolling wheel of the same flame, the mighty bundle of the netted fern. (p. 160)….
But the beauty of September for the artist lies in the colouring of the mountain masses. Dry eastern winds prevail, and where they prevail they bring with them from Yorkshire and North Lancashire light drifts of opaline smoke, which, though they take away the whiteness from the fleeces of our herdwick sheep and some of the glory of sunshine and clear air, do nevertheless work marvellous witchery of lilac veil and hyacinthine mist, and add a changeling beauty to our hills. (p. 162)
In the valleys the yellow rag-wort, though scanter, is still gay. The pastures with their heavy ‘fogg’ upon them still look as if bountiful nature “here had made a lasting spring.” That Spring is over and gone may be known by the silence of the birds; it is true that our mornings and evenings are clamorous with rooks—it is true that our twilight is vocal with the hooting of the owl, but except for the robin’s song and the wren’s tiny pipe our woodland ways are silent. (p. 162)
One tree, however, is sure of sound; wherever the yew trees grow, and the yew berries abound, there in late September will be found the scolding of the missel-thrush, and the glimmer of his grey under-wing flashes as part suspended in air and part tip-toe on the swaying plume he seeks his coral food. (pp. 162-163)
Towards the end of September also the artist may find colour in the flaming of the wild cherry in the woodland, and of the Virginian creeper on the house. The clematis with its silver gossamer is found on the hedgerows, and the hedgerows themselves, if they are of thorn, are full of colour with the hips and haws. But the chief joy of woodland fruitage lies not with the hips and the haw so much as with the berry of that holy Igdrasil that the Norsemen knew, the mystic rowan—the mountain ash. (p. 163)
It is to the gardens that we dwellers at the English Lakes turn with great gladness in September. When all the flowers have passed away in the gardens of the south, here growing in fullest glory may be found roses, sweet peas, mignonette, dahlias, monbretia, geraniums, sunflowers, hollyhocks, the poke plant, nasturtium, Japanese anemone, Michaelmas daisies, stocks and asters; whilst on the lowliest cottage wall may be seen the glorious garlanding of the scarlet ‘tropæolum speciosum.’ (p. 163)
As far as the farm folk go, the labours of their day are nearly over; their patches of corn are small, and they are soon housed. Cattle shows and sheep fairs and sheep dog trials are the order of the day, and fortunate are the strangers who will mix at any of these lake country gatherings. They will not only hear the native Doric, but will realise the native spirit that takes success as a matter of course, and failure as a thing to be borne without a murmur. (pp. 163-164)….
We have red colour in our lowland pastures at the end of September from the raddled fleeces of the aged ewes that dot them, but when twilight falls we have red colour on our upper fellsides also, for September is one of the months in which the shepherds burn the heather, and what through the day was but a faint puff of smoke upon the mountain side becomes at night-time a glorious golden jewel of light, and when we waken, behold, where before was the grey puce mantle of the September heather is a jet black patch, as though on some gigantic scale painters had been at work putting together a puzzle map of the dark continent. (pp. 169-170)
Towards the end of September one has a general impression that the hedgerows have suddenly bethought themselves that they belong rather to gardens than to fields. What were before “little sportive lines of wood run wild” are found to be trimmed into the absolute precision of a garden fence. Much beauty passes away when the hedge-man’s shears go to work, the swaying wild rose bramble, the wild ash sapling, the fruited elder fall, and alas! there falls with them an innumerable company of thorns, and happy is the bicyclist who finishes his journey without a puncture. (p. 170)
But the beauty of September lies in the sense of the completeness of the year—its quiet entering, notwithstanding the ram battles, into peace, and on sunny days the gossamers go sailing through the air with such content that one feels all the winds are laid asleep for ever and there will be no more storm. (p. 170)
(Months at the Lakes, pp. 160-170)