One of the things I love best about our area is what happens during autumn. September usually varies between moderate and rainy, we often slide into the beginnings of our rainy season about mid-to-late month. The trees begin to change color around early September, and you can feel that tang in the air that tells you autumn is just around the corner.
Unlike a number of places that don’t receive as much rain as we do, we don’t always get the crisp reds and burgundies of the changing leaves, especially if the rains come early. More often, our landscape is painted with yellow and golden leaves, turning into a pale brown before billowing off the trees for good with the October and November windstorms. And of course, most of the conifers — our towering furs, massive cedars, and sequoias that we have here—don’t change color at all. Although some of their needles do fall off, matting the forest floor with debris, providing a cushion for mushrooms and moss to grow in.
One thing I absolutely love about our autumns are the mists that rise during the night. There have been nights when I’ve gone out and the mist has been swirling around my ankles, and it surrounds me like a shroud. I often wonder, what kind of monsters lurk the darkness — is that a troll there? Sasquatch over behind that tree? Do vampires really exist, and if they do — this would be the perfect place for them. Is Dracula waiting out there? Or Aegis, from my Bewitching Bedlam Series?
We have spiders galore here, and during mid August, the giant European housespiders come out seeking mates. They’re horny little bastards, I’ll say that for them. They scuttle across the floor with leg spans that spread up to 5 inches wide. I happen to be arachnophobic. Sam knows when I see one of them racing across the floor because I have a special scream he describes as my “spider scream.”
But they do race — they’re the second fastest spider in the world. We also have giant orb weavers that weave their webs through the garden, usually starting in August. I don’t mind them so much, as long as they stay in their webs, but when they decide to try to span the sidewalk, that’s when I take issue. We always keep a stick at one end of the garage and a stick at the door, so that we can take down webs as we’re walking up the sidewalk to our front door.
We have a lot of Rowan trees here — they’re also known as mountain ash around the west coast — and their brilliant red berries belie the turning of the season. In fact, Sam and I have named our house and land Rowanwood Grove, because we have so many rowan trees. Rowan is sacred to one of the goddesses I follow. I gather some every year for a charm of protection for the house.
September is a transitional month in the Pacific Northwest. Autumn’s definitely on the doorstep, but the last rays of summer haven’t quite decided to give way. We still get temperatures that sometimes rise into the upper 70s, and even a few rare days of low 80s, but mostly we start heading toward the high 50s to mid 60s of October. And the rains start coming in, socking the sky with their armies of gray clouds, drizzling down as they beat a staccato rhythm on the roof.
Yes, I love the landscape of Western Washington. I grew up in eastern Washington where it’s vastly different — hot desert in the summer and icy cold in the winter. Nothing’s green there during the summer, and it’s dusty and dry. But over here, once you cross the Cascade Mountains that divide the state, we live in a temperate wonderland. A mystical world of mist and rain, of ferns that grow high as your waist, of old-growth cedars and firs dripping with moss. Yes, I love this land. And I really don’t think I’d ever want to live anywhere else.
So tell me, what’s September like in your area? What do you love about your landscape?