My Septembers


Coffee with Cream and Sugar
An Invitation into the Sweet Oneness of God
#3-My Septembers


Precious memories, oh how they linger!

Back to school, new clothes, books, and backpacks. Reading, writing, and arithmetic.

I find myself this particular September day musing and reminiscing about my summer in Lexington, Kentucky many years gone by.

Grandmother, granddaddy, great granny, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Chickens, church, the children on the hill, known as Georgetown Street. People hanging out in the park, Douglas Park, a popular place for the majority Black folks on the West End of town.

Grandmother’s flowers (mostly petunias) and her firm but fair loving discipline. Her brown porcelain praying hands that I inherited also remind me of her clapping hands in church on Sunday mornings at the Pleasant Green Baptist Church. (Reminds me of that song by Bill Withers called Grandma’s Hands with lyrics that sing…Grandma’s hands…clapped in church on Sunday morning…Grandma’s hands used to hand me piece of candy…Grandma’s hands picked me up each time I fell…if I get to heaven, I’ll look for Grandma’s hands…Hmm-mmh.)

Granddaddy’s yard tools that he stored beneath the house. I dreaded having to fight through the spider webs and creepy bugs to fetch yard and garden ware. Granddad’s cap, bib cocked to the side, when worn to the front. But often, he wore his cap with bib backwards, bottle of Kentucky bourbon in his back pocket, his signature stature and strut. Oh, and his old 1950’s burgundy Buick. It was a tank! The snacks and treats that he brought home at night spoiled me a little, but not to the point of becoming “rotten to the core.”

The fruit wagon– “Fruit Man! Fruit Man! Fruit Man!” was the beckoning call, which awakened the neighborhood in the morning. And in the evening, Mr. Frosty’s ice cream truck entered the neighborhood with alarming bells. Fruit wagon in the morning–ice cream truck in the evening–What a life!

My summer activities became my September memories.

Back to school now! High school, homeroom, lockers, stairwells, classes, football, homecoming, autumn leaves, girlfriends, guys “shootin’ the breeze, bragging, clowning, heckling, teasing.

September transitions. From heat, haze, and humidity to cool, colors, and cozy.

The beauty of the landscape and bounty of the harvest.

I’ll always remember my Septembers.

What about yours?


Joe asks, what about yours? As I read through his reflection, what jumps out at me first is the fruit wagon.

My Septembers have always held the heaviness of the harvest. That’s all I can come up with as I’m writing today, which happens to be the last day of September. It’s like each September I hold all the Septembers gone by—gathering them up with every other season that has come before. That image of the fruit wagon has been working on me. Perhaps I could use a wagon to carry the heavy, fruitful harvest of my Septembers.

I don’t have a sense, really, of a fruit wagon coming into my neighborhood in the morning. That sounds cool. I wonder if there were any white kids there (Joe says no). When I was young, my grandfather, who was a carpenter (he had a tool shed too—I think a little less scary but wondrous nonetheless), had a small fruit farm that he and my grandma lived on in Hartland, WI. My sister and I spent a lot of time helping them pick berries in the summer to sell by the pound, quart, or pint to those that sometimes came from miles around to their little farm on Highway K. The last crop of the year—in late September–would be the pumpkins. My sister and I would ride with him out to the field in a kind of wagon that he pulled behind his old red tractor. We would help him gather the pumpkins into the wagon and then ride back up to the driveway where we would sort them into sizes. I don’t really remember the amounts but something like $1-small. $2-medium. $5 (that was a lot)-for the BIG ONES. Grandpa would always tell us that we couldn’t have the biggest one as it would be too much money lost. He just couldn’t afford to give it to us. Maybe there was a truth in it for him, I suppose—he had been formed in the depression era–, but I think he was mostly teasing as it seems we always ended up taking it home…maybe like Joe’s granddaddy’s treats at dusk. Spoiled us…but not to the core…and we had to work for it a bit.

I wrote a song called The Harvest. I like to sing it in September. There is a line in it that reads, “red’s on the maple, soup’s on the table, and there’s tears from the years in my chest.” That line still seems to capture September for me. Seems a bit more melancholy than Joe’s Septembers, although I wonder if my melancholy set it sometime after all those childhood years. I can’t imagine that there isn’t some weight in Joe’s fruit wagon or resting in that bottle of bourbon in grandfather’s back pocket.

Joe and I met this morning for spiritual guidance, September 23, 2023. We were feeling and reflecting on September again and realized that we wrote the words for coffee and cream LAST September and have yet to share them with all of you. The slow sweetness of God allows this to be just fine.

As we considered that September feeling, we invited ourselves into the question that this blog is always posing…where do we notice the sugar—where is that sweet, sweet, spirit of God stirring our stories together and showing us a unified and shared experience of September?

The practice of Lectio Divina is one that arises in response. In Joe’s question, what about yours?–he is teaching a form of Lectio Divina…inviting each of us to simply read the words and listen with the ear of the heart to what arises. I heard “fruit wagon”, and it took me back to my grandfather’s farm and my grandfather’s ways. We then noticed that Joe’s granddaddy’s ways are also right there in Joe’s September. This sharing brought us to a conversation about what the fruit wagon coming into the neighborhood was like, and I learned that it was not a black man bringing the wagon (as I had imagined), but an old white man…maybe one not too different from my grandfather with his pumpkins, which made the intersection of the stories take on a mysterious sweetness for both of us too. Then we wondered about the scary and wonderous tool storage areas…and then we talked about Grandma’s candy. Joe reflected that his grandma didn’t always have a lot of candy to give out so when you got a piece (it was peppermint), this was something special. Maybe like when my grandpa let us have that special pumpkin. Or maybe, we wonder, if it’s a little like God’s grace…grandpa’s pumpkin…grandma’s candy…surprising us a sweet and special gift of oneness. This is how Lectio on life can work…just notice what is calling your attention and follow it, share it with one another, and in this sharing of stories and weaving them together, notice the sweet presence of God and the abundance of the fruit wagon coming into your neighborhood.

We shared a little more deeply about that melancholy question…the way that September conjures up tears and somehow works on us later in life, carrying all the love we have come into and let go of along the way…maybe something like that lyric in the Harvest song that touches the years of tears in our chests.

So, tell us about your Septembers.


8 thoughts on “My Septembers”

  1. I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head after reading this. How wonderful is it that two different memories can bring about even more for each of you!

  2. My Septembers…both my birthday and my late husband’s birth are celebrated. His, September 2th, mine, September 8th. The Lord blessed us to celebrate each other and connected me to be bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh for over 45 years. We claim, “September by Earth, Wind and Fire” as OUR theme song: “Do you remember, the 21st of September…” Remembering Septembers, have always been the most joyous time of the year for our family. As many others, back to school shopping excursions; annual physical exams and immunizations for the kids and the family trips to Disney World in late September. The big birthday celebrations of turning 30, 40, and 50. We’d dance happy dances. We loved to do our walks holding hands and watching the leaves and the season change.

    Just like that…September 3, 2021 happened. “My soul-mate, my knight in shining armor, my fix-it man, my ‘boyfriend’, my everything was placed in his resting space”. Absent from the body; present with the Lord (2Corinthian 5:8). Do I remember my Septembers? September now has a new meaning for me. As I visit the memorial space that seems so peaceful, I listen repeatedly to ‘our song’ and observe the other families that come to reflect. I rejoice in the Lord for blessing me to be ‘Mrs’. For me, I know he hears me and sees my tears. I feel his presence. I trust the Lord to massage my heart and give me strength to complete my journey.

    Do I remember my Septembers? Yes, we will “Dance in September” eternally 🙂

  3. This devotional is deep. I like how Heather always finds a parallel in both stories. Also how she links Pastor Joe’s September with in her’s . Pastor’s grandfather and her grandfather, also the fruit man, how she links her grandfather pumpkins to the fruit man in her story. I love how both stories have a similar message the sweetness of God .

    Now I’m thinking about the last September with my grandfather and grandmother. Remembering the smells of bread, and the sweet aroma of coconuts, corn ,squash ,that my grandfather grew in his garden. My grandmother often made bread and cinnamon rolls and bean pies.

    Reminiscing, those sweet memories of grandma and pawpaw.

  4. Thank you for your rich writing, and for giving us the space to respond and share our Septembers. My birthday is in September and it’s always been a special month for me. The transition to fall starts in full force with a symphony of color. I noticed something new this September: how leaves change colors on the outside of the tree first and then move to inner branches. Even some leaves start to change from the outside edges of the leaf to the inner. There’s something about how outer change happens first, and then comes inner change. And this speaks to me as this September, the 16th in fact, we held my Dad’s funeral. Deep sorrow swirls like the falling leaves, but I know inner change is coming.

  5. Thank you especially for the music that accompanies your pieces. I got glimpses into two childhoods that were really different from mine. But my grandma was special to me too. Her big old stove was lit with a match. She drank coffee with milk from a cup a big as a bowl. She had a dresser drawer filled with old family pictures: non-smiling, piercing-eyed ancestors in amazing clothes. She would give me a dollar and my cousin and I went to the school store and bought juice and candy. Such a treat! And she sat down every afternoon after lunch to watch her favorite ‘soaps’ on tv. That was an unheard of piece of luxury indeed!

  6. Thank you for your beautiful reflections, Heather and Joe. September has always been a kind of New Year for me, more so than Jan. 1. That is because so much of my life has been wrapped around a school schedule , first as a student, then as a mother and grandmother of students and as a teacher. The newness of September was wrapped around preparation and anticipation of the the school year ahead: new books, new classroom, new friends, new opportunities for learning. As a teacher, one of my favorite tasks was preparing my classroom for retuning and new students. (I was a Montessori teacher , so I had students for three years and preparing the environment for my students was so important.)
    September memories also include the birthday into earthly life ( September 6)and eternal life ( September 9) for my Mother. I was 18 and just getting ready to begin classes at Marquette. Should I not go and take care of my 7-year-old sister? My dad said, “You go to college. We’ll work it out.” And we did!!
    Sept. 26 was the receiving of his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer for my husband, Ralph, from which he entered into eternal life 10 weeks later.
    Yes, September memories include many times of new beginnings.

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