First Day of September

A slight break in the weather, a reminder to stop and reflect on how it is not all about heat, misery and perdition but also neighbors and life and dogs.

September is not my favorite month (October is, for a bunch of reasons, most involving nicer weather) but Labor Day is a turning point.

In our middle South, summer is the sluggish time. Not so harsh a heat as in the Carolina Lowcountry nor the drawling steam of New Orleans nor the breathlessness of Houston. But here there’s an impulse to hide somewhere indoors through the depths of July and August. Then a hint of a cool breeze will bring us back out, as before, especially when the zebra-shirted ref blows his whistle for the helmeted kicker to get on with it.

Speaking of, that last day of August was not a proud day in Knoxville. Least not for anybody I know, and especially for those two couples and dog on the doomed pleasure boat that burned. It had been their first run upriver with the Vol Navy, and for naught. All the five aboard survived, the News-Sentinel reports. In hindsight, the dramatic sinking might have foretold the afternoon for the Vol Boys, who would struggle for breath inside the cathedral of SEC football. They lost - sadly and badly - to Georgia State. (I’m sorry, to whom?)

September mainly puts me in mind of many positives…

Neighbors: The way so many folks get outdoors again and renew each other’s acquaintance. (Of course, this happens year-round with dog-walkers, or rather with dogs who walk their people, but as autumn deepens many others also appear when the temp comes down a tad. In September, the dogged are more likely to encounter the non-dogged.

Colors: September is the month the leaves begin to fall and blow about, and at the higher elevations all in nature turns orange and red and copper and rust.

Blessings: I think of certain amenities that that mayors and councils and donors have blessed our city with: Greenways and sidewalks, and parks, bike lanes and branch libraries. All these are fine places where people meet people, and the city gets to know itself a little better.

Fun: In September we may remember there’s a testing to come, but before winter there will be chances for picnics and handshakes and more baseball. Nothing quite like a breezy night with a hot dog and a cool one at First Tennessee Park, with friends and a view of an astonishing skyline.

Thinking of that skyline view, which takes in the State Capitol, I’m reminded that the Legislature does not meet in September, and I smile for my city.

September is the month we look back and look ahead. Back to the awful 9/11 when the world changed, yes, but also ahead in anticipation of new births, new hopes, and before we know it new elections.