In the old Victoria magazine, one of my most cherished departments (among a crowd of loved ones) was Favorite Things. I always saved Chimes for last, and I religiously denied myself so much as a peek at the main body of the magazine—with its ravishing spreads of Old Masters-esque photographs and seasonal quotations from the likes of Bronte and Keats flourishing across the pages in sinuous script—until the proper details of the setting were in order: tea, a favorite chair by the window and a little bite of something lovely. (If it sounds like I used to have a party for my new Victoria, then I can only say that it deserved it.) But Favorite Things was always fair game. I could lose myself in it on the way back up the driveway from the mailbox and stand propped against the kitchen counter while my family bustled their commotion around me in an oblivion of utter impunity. Favorite Things was always my gateway to the rest of the magazine, even more so than Nancy Lindemeyer’s lovely letters, which I usually read next. It set the stage, so to speak, and called forth a host of memories and ideas suitable to the season that approached. There was a magic in that column that threw a rainbow tint over the month in question, intentionally highlighting its unique little pleasures and joys, comforts to be indulged in, and the subtle shades of distinction that make a kaleidoscopic variety of a year.
(I am well aware that the new Victoria carries the same feature. But it is not the same. It’s lost the magic. For me, at least.)
It is in memory of this, and perhaps in token of the fact that the start of each new month is always a ‘beginning the world’ for me—and never more so than September!—that I have decided to commence a Favorite Things feature here at Lanier’s Books. There are so many miracles to celebrate as our year revolves: small wonders to mark and keep; mementoes to pocket in tribute to a month’s unique identity. Bits of lovely that happen to make my heart happy at a given time.
It’s all so blessedly new when we turn the page of a calendar. And even more blessedly familiar. I’d like to welcome the changes while honoring the unchanging rhythm that undergirds and makes of all our brave adventuring into a month, at heart, a homecoming.
Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.
William Wordsworth, September
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh
The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.
John Updike, September
How shimmer the low flats and pastures bare,
As with her nectar Hebe Autumn fills
The bowl between me and those distant hills,
And smiles and shakes abroad her misty, tremulous hair!
Lowell, An Indian Summer Reverie
Lord, it is time. The summer was very big. Lay thy shadow on the sundials, and on the meadows let the winds go loose. Command the last fruits that they shall be full; give them another two more southerly days, press them on to fulfillment and drive the last sweetness into the heavenly wine.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Blessed September, my friends!