Sunday was the essence of September.
Rain had fallen all night, but cleared by dawn. While the grass and streets remained wet, the air felt like it had been thoroughly cleaned. It was, in fact, crisp. The humid haze of August, coating our everyday lives a few weeks ago, had slipped away.
In the garden, the staked tomato vines and their fruits stood out in an almost surreal clarity. Overhead, oak leaves, never finalists in leaf beauty contests, shone like green mirrors in the direct sun. Even the needles on the branches of the pitch pines were suffused with a bright glow.
Leaves of bushes trembled and bobbed in the gentle breeze, as if their branches had decided to lightly shake them.
The sky turned the most optimistic of blues, the kind of blue that makes you think that anything you want to accomplish can be accomplished, and with relative ease.
The sun was warm, but not hot. The dew point, the temperature at which water condenses, had dropped way, way down, giving a kind of bounce to the air.
On Cape Cod—often the host of chilly winters, non-existent springs, and sticky summers—September is the payoff. Summer’s back may not yet be broken, but it has lost its strength.
For Cape Codders, September is the reward for putting up with whatever the previous eight months of the calendar year have decided to inflict on us.
But every cloud, no matter how cheerful and white, has a bit of gray. And so does Cape Cod with September, a month that specializes in big, white, cheerful clouds.
The problem is that the secret—that September is the best month of the year on the Cape—has gotten out.
Not terribly long ago, you could find yourself all by your lonesome in a multitude of places on the Cape in perfectly delightful September weather, nary a soul around.
You still can—but it’s getting harder and harder to do.
The unspoken code of conduct among year-rounders—to wave goodbye to the departing throngs on Labor Day, all the while keeping tight-lipped and evasive about the weeks to follow—has been breached.
Blame must be laid at the door of the Cape’s tourism and real estate interests, along with their hired advocates. The onset of the phrase “shoulder season” foretold the demise of whatever obscurity protected the month from mainlanders.
Now September roads can be just as crowded as July or August roads. The background buzz of activity, only slightly down from summer, continues to hover at the outside edge of our hearing.
As a result, September, despite all its bright skies and and soft breezes, sometimes can feel only like a somewhat more tolerable version of August, with shorter days as well.
True September still is out there, though. Find it off the beaten path, or farther down the beach, or even on your street in front of your home, if you remember to get up early enough. Savor September, for it is a precious thing.