Now Goes September

Kage Baker considered September pretty much a place-holder month. It wasn’t summer anymore – no matter what excesses the weather got up to – and it was not really Autumn. Further, although the leaves began to turn most years, it was also when the crepe myrtle blossomed; and for Kage, that was a melancholy sign that school was beginning again.

In fact, September was tainted from beginning to end for Kage by the return to school. (Had she had to return in August – as LA kids do now – I think she’d have rebelled and gone to be feral in the Hollywood Bowl.) October was different, since it was the beginning of the holiday season. October was Halloween, and that made all the difference to Kage. She told the dates from October to February by what candies were on the shelf.

School was not her favourite place to be, though. Her grade school years were a Dickensian nightmare, from which she emerged writing stories of small girls who murder their teachers. High school was better, mostly because she had by then perfected invisibility, anonymity and ahimsa; she got up to a lot of quiet hell, but was never successfully identified by the Administration as the responsible party for her endeavours. Even in her senior year, when she had only 2 classes and only visited her locker twice in the year – once to open it, once to close it – she drifted through the coral reefs of Immaculate Heart High School like a transparent fish.

Which was quite an accomplishment, considering she had red hair, insisted on wearing a blue velvet smoking jacket over her uniform, and wore a plaid scarf tied around her upper arm as a political statement about Scots Independence. But Kage was good at invisibility. She gave her operatives that social trick in her Company series.

Remembering this makes me sad to realize I spent my September this year in the Slough of Despond. Not the loud, frenetic, neon-lit downtown Despond, either; in the dark, dusty corners where one wall and half a roof makes a house, and you have to hide your head in dead leaves and aluminum cans to bury it … we can’t afford sand in the exurbs of Despond. I feel I’ve wasted September, more than any other part of this year.

Ordinarily, I like September. It actually is when Autumn begins, and every hint of the season’s change makes me happy. Even in years like this one, when so far the leaves are beginning to fall but barely changing colour – from dusty green to dusty brown, then splat! on the sidewalk. I like the mists that rise here on the edge of Griffith Park, beside the LA River. I like needing to get under a blanket for a couple of hours a night.

I even like the engulfing tide of pumpkin spice flavour that engulfs the land now. I don’t like pumpkin spice, you understand – except in pumpkin pies. But all the things that come out this time of year are hilarious. Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer is especially amusing in this regard; pumpkin spice flavoured teas, candles, corn chips, beer, salsa … in regular grocery stores, there are Oreos, Cheerios, cream cheese and probably feminine products. I won’t eat that stuff, but it’s cheery and fun to see.

Leaves are falling, mulberry and oak and sycamore. The squirrels on the front porch skitter through them all day; at night, the skunks and raccoons turn them over and over to look for peanuts the squirrels dropped. My porch is a bustling place … None of the leaves are more than brown, though; and most of them are still faded greens – the nights haven’t yet been cold enough to set off the sugars that power metamorphosis, but the mulberry knows it’s time to drop ’em, regardless. Autumn in California can be like that in warm years. Things just dry out.

Maybe when it gets cold enough to spark some colour change in the leaves, my own personal sugars will settle down and behave. While I don’t feel all that bad, my blood sugar is living a wild, free life, untrammeled by sense or responsibility – I fear the eventual results are dissolving my liver and one (1) remaining kidney, so I am battling my glucose metabolism carefully. I am learning a lot about the chemistry of nutrition, which is at least entertaining. My endocrinologist is worried that upping my meds will make my blood sugar bottom out; I tell her I would give a leg for a low sugar count, but that’s exactly what she is afraid of … I think I’m designed to live in an ice age, and have had the misfortune to be born in an era of global warming.

Halloween is going to be less sweet than usual, for me. Oh, well. There are still the lights, the darkness, the fogs and smokes and mists smelling of the distant sea; I can manage without Smarties and Chicken Stix. After all, I can still complain about not having them, so there’s that satisfaction!

Anyway, tomorrow is indeed October. I will enjoy the hell out if it, too. The weather is finally cool enough for me to take walks in the evening, and watch the stars change overhead. And there is NaNoWriMo to get ready for, as well – write a novel in a month, which is always an insanity for which I do not really have any time, but which has yielded several stories and 2 novels to my past efforts.

If only I can get my agent to do something with them. But it is coming on for Harvest Home, so maybe I’ll be lucky this year.



About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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