23 Sep September
My kids often ask me which month is my favorite. I usually demure and talk about how each month has its pros and cons: I love playing in the snow of January, I also enjoy walking the barren woods of November replete with its browns and grays, and then there’s late-April when spring finally returns… Although I never mention March. No one likes March. March is the worst.
But during a recent walk in the woods, I realized that September is by far my favorite. First of all, it’s still warm and the days reasonably long. There are myriad flowers in bloom, including two of my favorites: the much-maligned goldenrod and purple asters. And these flowers are often decorated with bees of all kinds: honeybees making as much honey as they can before the long winter, queen bumblebees stocking up before their long, solitary hibernation, and other bees who don’t realize that their furious search for food is in vain as they’ll be dead once the first frost hits.
And finally, there’s the constant insect chorus from both field and forest. We are currently surrounded by millions of male crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, and locusts feverishly rubbing their legs and/or wings together hoping to attract a mate. The first frost signals their demise, so there’s a rush to pass along their genes before mid-October. Feeding on these smaller invertebrates is a host of animals including the praying mantis, whom I only seem to find in late-September. A long, graceful (and kind of creepy) predator, the praying mantis must also reproduce before the frost. Their egg cases look like daubs of spray-foam insulation on long, sturdy stems of plants.