High Points: Swooning for September

Paul E. Anna
High Points
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I can’t help myself.

I have been writing this column for a long, long time – close to 20 years – and I am pretty sure that at one time or another, I have declared each one of the 12 months as my favorite. That is to say that I have penned a piece in an ode to each of the 12 months.

And I’m certain that at the time that I wrote them, I sincerely meant every word about each month. I mean how great is January in the heart of ski season when the mountains belong to us and only us? Or March when the sun glistens on the fresh powder and the sun lingers long on our ski slopes? Or June when the summer begins it’s all too brief but all too beautiful run? You know as well as I do that if you live in Aspen, it is easy to be fickle and a bit frivolous about picking which month is your favorite. Aren’t we lucky?

But you know, if you had to actually stop and pick a truly “best month,” one that deserves to have quotes around it, it would have to be “September.” Yes, this month. The one that currently possesses our souls. Now I’m sure that there are other candidates, but none share the versatility of this, the ninth month, and certainly none have the emotional sentiments that come with it.

September is a fulcrum month that balances the change of seasons. In the last two weeks, we have all felt that swing as summer falls and fall ascends. The temperatures drop in the evenings to right around freezing, the breeze has become cool on the shoulders in the late afternoons, and the light has become a shade more intense. The leaves are just getting ready to burst into their brightest yellow and gold, and you can feel that winter is not that far away. Yes, there may even be a bit of snow on the highest peaks as you read this.

This weekend, in the hours just after midnight on Saturday morning, at 12:52 a.m., most of us will likely sleep through the autumnal equinox. The equinox marks a time of change for the entire world. In the northern hemisphere, it is the harbinger of winter’s approach — or as we call it, ski season. In the southern hemisphere, it is the beginning of spring, the re-awakening of the earth. And, unlike most arbitrary, manmade dates of demarcation, the equinox is based on a specific moment tied to the tilting of the earth. It marks the exact moment the sun crosses the “celestial equator,” an imaginary line that extends the line of the earth’s equator into space. At precisely the time the center of the sun passes through that line, from north to south, fall takes center stage in these parts. It’s a September thing.

September is the month we have the JAS Labor Day Experience, the Balloon Fest, the Snowmass Wine Fest, and Filmfest. It is the beginning of football season and when baseball’s pennant races are at their hottest. It is the month that sees the finals of the US Open tennis tourney and Spain’s Vuelta. It is the best sports month of the year.

Yes, the golden Aspens, the equinox, the sports, and entertainment — there’s a lot to like about September.

But there is something else that is appealing about the ninth month of the year. It seems to provoke contradictory emotions. While we revel in the beauty of the month, it also makes us feel a little sad. The days are shorter, the summer closes, and we start thinking about hunkering down for the season to come. Maybe it’s the kids going back to school or the chill of the evenings, but something about September makes us feel.

Maybe that’s why September is my favorite month.

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