September memories

September 3, 2015

My favorite month of all.

September is Michigan's most beautiful month. Clear blue skies, low humidity, with temps in the low 70s during the day and high 50s at night. No AC needed, or heat just yet; the windows are flung open, and the fresh air welcomed.

(Note: okay, today it's 90 and the AC is on; I'm speaking generally here.)

September is also back to school month. I always want to buy a nice clean composition book and sharpen some No. 2 pencils and write Something Important. It's a month of new beginnings, even more so for me than January. In January, I usually just want to cozy up to the fire with a hot drink and a good book. But September is invigorating, especially after the energy-sapping humidity of August.

It's a month that calls for making plans, cleaning the house, baking, starting some creative projects, setting goals . . . 

Most of all, though, September is a nostalgic month for me. For some reason, this is the month I most remember and think about my maternal grandmother. She and my grandfather lived in New England, and, growing up, I only saw them for a few days each year during the summer. As a young adult, I visited them several times during the autumn, and enjoyed some lovely Indian summer weather with them.

Maybe that's why I feel especially nostalgic for her at this time of year.

But why does she loom so large in my memory when I really spent relatively little time with her?

Sometimes I think I loved my grandmother's house as much as I loved her. As children, my brother and sister and I barely said hello when we arrived on our annual visit before we raced upstairs to explore the attic in their turn-of-the-century farmhouse. I still remember sitting on the wooden floor beneath a slanted ceiling, dust motes drifting in the warm, still air as I eagerly looked through boxes and tins crammed with books and dolls, dishes and fabric.

That attic seemed magical. As we clambered up the narrow stairs, it was as though we were going through our own wardrobe, into a land where time stood still, where the very air was thick with long-forgotten memories. There was comfort and belonging there, too, as well as downstairs, where extended family gathered, and good food was heaped on plates passed around the long table.

The house was filled with the work of my grandparents' hands -- braided rugs, needlepointed pillows, quilted bedspreads, caned chairs -- and lots of dishes and antiques. I'm sure my love of these things came directly from them. A trip through the antique store now is almost like visiting them again.

Sometimes, when I can't sleep at night, maybe especially at this time of year, I walk through their home in my memory, starting at the back door, and coming into the laundry room where I remember arranging nasturtiums at the sink, into the kitchen where hung plates representing all 50 states, into the little pantry that smelled of cloves and cinnamon, and held tins of candy that my grandparents loved, into the workroom with my grandfather's massive roll-top desk and my grandmother's work table and boxes of ribbons and buttons and yarn. I linger, looking at everything. Then I'm on through the rest of the house, up the stairs to the claw-footed bathtub and stacks of line-dried, sweet-smelling towels and the hatpin holder filled with bejeweled pins sitting on an embroidered dresser cloth next to the twin beds with cathedral window quilts on them.

I inherited many of the things they made -- a nursing rocker, caned by my grandfather, where I rocked and nursed my own babies, an embroidered alphabet sampler, a dollhouse they made filled with handmade items, even including a tiny spider plant made of paper and hanging in a macramed holder. Handmade Christmas ornaments, potholders, quilted placemats, oil paintings, a set of red transferware dishes . . . in every room there is some mark of their creativity and industry and love of beauty.

Maybe I think of them especially now because I seem to cook more this time of year. I still use many of their recipes, including one for Joe Froggers, which are giant molasses cookies, and ones for homemade mac and cheese, zucchini pickles, bran muffins, apricot chicken, and Anadama bread, a hearty yeast bread made with corn meal.

September -- redolent with memories, new beginnings, gorgeous weather . . . apple crisps and pumpkin spice doughnuts. New clothes, bright chrysanthemums, gorgeous maple trees aflame with color, hot cider, cricket songs in the cool evenings . . .

And even more good stuff to look forward to. October's a close second.


  1. I loved this post, Deborah and could relate so much to your memories of your grandparent's home. I have similar memories and when you said sometimes you just lie awake walking through their home again I had to smile as I do that, too. Weren't we fortunate to have such fine memories. I love the doll-house. What a wonderful treasure for you to now own. It's beautiful. I think we all have our mind on autumn recipes and the coming of brilliant red trees. And new sweaters, of course. :)) Enjoy your day and thanks for a walk through your gran's home. Deb

  2. I also feel like it a new start....time to change things up a bit in the decor and start new routines. I love your precious doll house and could just sit here all morning looking at it. Enjoy your day! Sweet hugs, Diane

  3. Loved this post. Reading about your association with your grandmother and New England in the fall reminds me of a trip my husband and I made to New England once to test-drive a new car (he worked for the car company). We visited a pioneer village (Sturbridge Village) and all the smells of the apple press, hot cider, fresh baked oatmeal cookies and the gorgeous fall colour were all brought back to me in this post. Not to mention there's something special about a pioneer village anyway with all those creaking wooden floors, worn furniture & homemade quilts.

  4. What a lovely post, filled with so many nostalgic memories of an era long gone. It evoked so many memories of my own grandparents. Love the dolls house, I hope mine lives on in the grandchildren's memories for many more years to come.

  5. I love September too, the thought of pumpkins, apples, spices, the coming of cooler weather, wood smoke. It is also our wedding anniversary, so it's extra special.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

  6. Seriously, I am so ready for it to feel like autumn! As soon as it hit Sept 1st I was doing the happy dance "almost fall, almost fall". Of course, today, in my corner of SW GA, it is 90 degrees with heat index of 98! Arggg I want to put out my fall decor on my hutch, I want crisp evenings/cardigan weather with hot apple cider and pumpkin bread! I am a yankee girl transplanted in the south, am happy with no longer shoveling snow in the mornings all winter, etc, but heavens, I am ready for the temps to change!!! I want to see the fall leaves change color!!!

  7. Oh lovely...very much enjoyed this. Look for an email as I will take the rest of this behind the scenes. =D

  8. Awww I loved reading about your fond memories of your grandparents house and all the special things that you have from them. I'm sure seeing those much loved things, brings them close to you in your beautiful heart, Deborah.

  9. Oh Deborah, I loved this post. Your beloved grandparents left you a legacy of pure love. You experienced so many wonderful things from them. How I loved the dollhouse! I'm definitely a dollhouse person. Oh, that was a terrific gift. Treasure those memories. (I know you do.) I love September, too. Plus, it's my birthday month! Suaan

  10. Joe Froggers.... I remember making those years ago from a recipe I found in a magazine. I'd never heard of them till then. Yum!

    A lovely walk collection of memories. Your attic stories have me remembering crawling around in our own little attic in our farm house and smelling (seeing) the dust in the sunlight.

    How lovely to have such memories that you use them to help to relax when you can't sleep.

    Thanks for sharing...

  11. This is a lovely post, Deborah! So heartfelt and you made your grandparents and their home real to me. I can almost picture their house from what you've written. And reading through the list of recipes you make that were your grandmother's reminds me of the old New England cookbooks I have.

    I can tell that September in Michigan must be more like October here in TN. It's still summer here for sure but the nights are cooler and there is just a different feel in the air.

  12. What a beautiful post, Deborah. I felt the warmth of that country kitchen as I read it. It made me think of all those I have loved and lost.

    Yes, I, too, love the month of September. We began our married life together in September....many, many Septembers ago. I love fall, its colors, its crunchy red apples, wooly sweaters and sipping Armagnac by a cozy fire. Can't wait for those crisp autumn days to begin. But....for now, we will still have to deal with 90 degree weather.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful family memories with us.

    Cheers, M-T

  13. Dear Deborah, Such a beautiful post filled with thoughts of the love for your grandparents. They surely blessed you in many ways. What a treasure the dollhouse is and all the darling tiny pieces filling each room. I had to smile when you said you walked through their home in your thoughts remembering each and every corner. I do this too when I think of my childhood home in Dearborn and my grandma's home too. I can see each and every detail just how they left it.

    I too love this month and on into October. Even with our temps still very much like summer, you can feel a change coming and it will be very welcome after the soaring heat this year.

    I enjoyed this heartfelt and nostalgic post. We can always go back in our memories and that is so special. What a blessing!!
    Love your new pretty blog pic. Your hair cut is adorable!
    Have a nice long Labor Day weekend.

  14. I adore this post. You took me back to my own grandparents home and the days I spent there as a child. I also walk through their house in my mind, taking it all in once again. There really is something about this time of year that makes me feel very nostalgic, even more so than I already do every day.

    That dollhouse is absolutely wonderful. What a treasure :)


  15. A beautiful post, Deborah, full of loving memories of days gone by. How lovely to have these reminders of your grandparents in your own home. September is a month to remember, and also to plan. I feel the same way.

  16. I feel as though I was walking through those rooms along with you Deborah...your wonderful descriptions painted such a warm picture of these memories of yours. I like September too, not because it's my birth month (I try to ignore birthdays anymore) but like you, mostly because it ushers in the freshness that summer took away with it's heat and humidity and makes way a for fall. It sounds like you have inherited many treasures that I'm sure you will always cherish...LOVE the doll house! A truly beautiful post!

  17. I just loved this post...I think I was there in the attic and in the rooms with you. Beautiful.

  18. Dearest Deborah,
    For a moment I thought you had begun to write a book; almost like a sweet novel and it IS!
    Yes, that's the way we can unravel our very being by looking back at those that instilled such fondness in us, at a tender age. What a blessing and both of your Grandparents must be smiling down from heaven when reading this!
    It is so true, the smells of certain things and fond memories stay with us till we die.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  19. What a lovely post!! You and I are certainly kindred spirits :) I long for all this autumn feeling you describe, except down here in the South it does not arrive in September (much as I want it to), but in October or even November. It sneaks up on us. I'm longing for still Saturday afternoons with big wood fires in the pasture and marshmallows and no more mosquitoes :)

  20. Such a sweet way to hasten sleep! Deborah, this is a beautiful post, full of the things that matter most in life. My you always hold these memories close to your heart; may they always bring you comfort.

  21. p. s. did you cut your hair? It looks fabulous...even if you didn't cut it but it sure looks like it...???

  22. Oh pretty friend, I so enjoyed this wonderful post, you write so beautifully, I feel I'm reading a story I love.
    I can relate to my great-greatparents house this way, here in Ecuador, although I also didn't see them much because our resident was in NYC. Their house was probably a turn of the century Spanish huge home, with two gardens and lovely furniture of the time. Great-grand always crocheted beautiful things, that's why I have heirlooms from my grandma and my mom, as they both learned from the great.
    Isn't wonderful to have memories of our past family, as this is what makes OUR very own history and they always bring a warm smile to our hearts.

  23. I completely understand why you think of them so much just reading this loving post. Any grandparent would be blessed to know their granddaughter so cherishes the work of their hands and loves them so much.

    I love the needlework and carefully crafted doll house Like you, this time of the year invigorates me and inspires me, and this post reminds me I have a doll house and some embroidery to work on...the joy of crisp mornings and evenings set apart by perfect sunny days have me excited for this season.

  24. I feel like I'm right there in your grandparent's house - it is too bad there are not more houses like that anymore. Just joy. I had an aunt who had a house like that - and my favorite thing was a lovely doll trunk with a doll and all her hand sewn clothes. Maybe that is where I got my love of dolls. Thanks for the fun post.

  25. Hi Deborah,
    What a special tribute to your grandparents. I also have fond memories of being at my grandmother's home. She was Scottish and made homemade oatcakes and read our tea leaves in our teacups. She had fresh carrots in her garden that tasted delicious! Thank you for triggering my happy memories. I do love your dear dollhouse and new hair too! Have a Wonderful Week! Karren

  26. Oh what an absolutely beautiful read that was Deborah! I can feel myself almost there in that enchanting attic. What fabulous days they must have been, and what memories made. I never had any grandparents and occasionally wondered what it would have been like. I do have memories though in a few items which belonged to my grandmother like her recipe diary from 1899 when she was in service and her sewing box and bone crochet hook, so it must be even more special to have actually known your wonderful grandmother when she owned the treasures you now cherish. Have a lovely week xx

  27. Deborah, I agree. September is my favorite month in Michigan. And I'm a huge fan of grandparents and love the way you walk through your grandparents' home in your memory.


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