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Vermont Weathervane

September Days
by Rowland E. Robinson

A Year of Septembers
by W.D. Wetherall

Dairy Farmers of the Year
by Gus How Johnson

Johnny Appleseed
by Frank B. McAllister

A Bushel of Apple Recipes

At Least a 40-Watt Bulb: Planting Spring Bulbs

Nature's Cycles

Making, Using and Enjoying Sweet and Hard Cider
Small House Design
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Picking Stones in Vermont

September Days
by Rowland E. Robinson

SEPTEMBER days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours, but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn.

The cricket chirps in the noontide, making the most of what remains of his brief life. The bumblebee is busy among the clover blossoms of the aftermath, and their shrill and dreamy hum hold the outdoor world above the voices of the song birds, now silent or departed.

Such a little while ago they were our familiars, noted all about us in their accustomed haunts sparrow, robin, and oriole each trying now and then, as if to keep it in memory, a strain of his springtime love song. The bobolinks, in sober sameness of traveling gear, held the meadowside thickets of weeds, and the swallows sat in sedate conclave on the barn ridge.

Then, looking and listening for them, we suddenly become aware they are gone. How unobtrusive was their exodus. We awake and miss them, or we think of them and see them not and then we realize that with them summer too has gone.

This also the thistledown and the blooming asters tell us, and, though the woods are dark with their latest greenness, in the lowlands the gaudy standard of autumn is already displayed. In its shadow the muskrat is thatching his winter home, and on his new-shorn watery lawn the full-fledged wild duck broods frolic in full feather strength of wing.

Evil days are these of September that now befall them. Wish for the callow days of peaceful summer when no honest gunner was abroad and only the keel of the unarmed angler rippled the still channel. Continuous unrest and abiding fear are their lot now and till spring brings the truce.

More silently than the fisher's craft the skiff of the sportsman now invades the rush-paled thoroughfares. Noiseless as ghosts, paddler and shooter glide along the even path till, alarmed by some keener sense than is given us, up rise wood duck, dusky duck, and teal from their reedy cover. Then the ready gun belches its thunder, and suddenly consternation pervades the marshes.

All the world has burst forth in a burning of powder. From end to end, from border to border, the fenny expanse roars with discharge and echo, and nowhere within it is there peace or rest for the sole of the webbed foot. Even the poor bittern and heron, harmless and worthless, flap to and fro from one retreat to another.

The upland woods, too, are awakened from the slumber of their late summer days. How silent they had grown when their songsters had departed, rarely stirred but by the woodpecker's busy hammer, the chatter and bark of squirrels, and the crows making vociferous proclamation against some winged or furred enemy. The grouse have waxed fat among the border patches of berry bushes, rarely disturbed in the seclusion of the thickets but by the soft footfall of the fox, the fleeting shadow of a cruising hawk, and the halloo of the farmer driving home his herd from the hillside pasture.

Now come enemies more relentless than beast or bird of prey, a sound more alarming than the farmer's distant call man and his companion the dog, and the terrible thunder of the gun.

Peace and the quietness of peace have departed from the realm of the woods, and henceforth while the green leaves grow bright as blossoms with the touch of frost, then brown and sere, and till long after they lie under the white shroud of winter, its wild denizens shall abide in fear and unrest.

So fares it with the woodfolk, these days of September, wherein the sportsman rejoices with exceeding gladness.

Rowland E. Robinson was an avid Vermont naturalist and writer.