A September Moment

Reading time: 2 minutes

Michael Ransom

On the front deck, looking out upon our yard and neighborhood. Noon. The sun beats down from a puffy-white-cloud-against-blue-sky September day. The wind quiets, then blows ever so slightly, like it’s whispering. The silence surrounds me, blankets me. I want to put this moment in a bottle, cork it, and store it to be opened and enjoyed on any of the dark, windy, below zero days that I know will come in winter—days when it looks like we’re living on the moon. Days on which I know I’ll think: Did I pay attention to those perfect summer and fall days? I should have enjoyed them more.


The two trees shading our deck each has a patch or two of leaves that have turned bright yellow, the first sign that fall is soon to be upon us. Pay heed. The leaves change from green to browns, yellows, and reds almost before my eyes. Now they’re green, now they’re not. I should keep count as they turn. One day soon these two trees will be bare, their curled leaves lying about their trunks. They will stand naked, embarrassed.

But this moment is unbelievably perfect. Don’t ponder December. Don’t dread winter. A cricket chirps from the pine tree near the road. The cicadas raise a loud chorus every now and then. The noise grows, then hushes. A crow caws loudly and circles overhead. Then a breeze blows again, ever so gently.

The whirling of a Mayo One ambulance helicopter breaks the still of the moment, flying from the southern sky to its pad at Saint Marys Hospital. A sad reminder that someone in need of medical rescue is not enjoying this moment as I am able to do. The chop of the rotors fades as the helicopter heads north.

A woodpecker taps away on a neighbor’s house. Something peeps repeatedly at another neighbor’s. A bird? An alarm?

The sun warms me as it beams down from the sky. The yellow flowers on the potentella nearly touching my chair move ever so slightly in the breeze. I hear the leaves rustle in the willow across the street. A car drives slowly by.

As I write, my pen casts a shadow on the page. When I bring the tip of the pen to the paper, the shadow arrives at the same point, and these words flow from me to the page.

Time moves on, a second at a time, at the same rate it moves on any other day. I sit unhurried, not worrying about what’s on my to-do list. Just listening, watching, being.

The faint smell of burning leaves is in the air. The cicadas begin again. They buzz like telephone wires. How do they make that noise? The sound of dogs barking from indoors comes from down the street. Car traffic on Highway 52, a half-mile east, drones on in the background. The louder noise of a semi occasionally rises above the hum.

At a moment in which it seems like nothing happens, much is. Two leaves unhook from the tree by the deck and glide to the ground. Their summer has ended. And so will mine.