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September is a month of change
This time of transition has valuable lessons for our work lives too.
September is a month of change. We're a few days into a month that brings not just a shift in seasons but a change in our rhythms and how we approach the remainder of this year.
September in the Northern Hemisphere heralds the transition from summer’s last warmth to autumn’s cooler embrace. As it becomes increasingly obvious that the days are getting shorter, the winding down of trees becomes more apparent, with leaves shifting from summer green to shades of gold, amber, and bronze. It’s as if the forest itself is capturing sunlight in its foliage, holding onto the warmth of brighter days for just a bit longer.
Earlier this year in the UK, appearing first in late July, blackberries are ending their season. Birds and foragers alike are turning their attention to glossy black elderberries and damsons. Yesterday I saw the first of the sloes—a reminder to pick some to make this year’s batch of Sloe Gin and enjoy last year’s batch tucked away in a dark spot on Aloha.
The air takes on a distinctive coolness, especially in the mornings and evenings, carrying the rich, earthy scent of damp soil and fallen leaves. On forest walks, the smell of autumn rot is beginning to grow stronger. It reminds us that this is a time of change as both animals and plants prepare for the leaner months ahead. The early mushrooms are appearing, feasting on the decay of plants that gave their all throughout the summer months. Fields that were once lush and green are now golden and ripe for harvest. Throughout the land, combine harvesters collect their harvest. Bales of straw left behind in the fields remind us that this is a month of harvest festivals - centuries-old celebrations and feasts—giving thanks for this year’s bounty and mental preparation for winter’s icy grip.
Screeching as they swirl and dive, the swallows are particularly active, their aerial acrobatics resembling a dogfight. It's as if they're paying homage to past heroes, ensuring that we can continue to enjoy Septembers like this one. The swallows are preparing themselves for the long migration to Africa. They’re not alone; many birds start preparing for migration, filling the sky with patterned formations as they rehearse for their long journeys. Meanwhile, squirrels busy themselves with foraging, burying nuts in spatial patterns that enable them to find them again when food is scarce. The overall pace of nature seems to shift, slowing down yet bustling with preparation, as if every creature is heeding an ancient, unspoken cue that change is on the horizon.
September 22nd or 23rd is the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are of equal length before it starts tipping the other way and our days, increasingly, are lived in a cloak of darkness. Since the very earliest times, humans have celebrated this transition. In the UK, the Stonehenge stone circle dates back to around 3,000 BC. Its Heel Stone, a large stone outside the main circle, is positioned so that it marks the sunset on the winter solstice and the sunrise on the summer solstice. Pagan groups, revellers, and the curious will gather here this year to celebrate, as they have every year apart from when pandemics like COVID and the Black Death kept us apart.
September is a month of change. Holidays are a memory, fading along with the tans of those lucky (and, perhaps, unwise enough) to enjoy some downtime in the sun. Term starts again, with all its emotional highs and lows for children and parents alike. And, just as parents and children adjust to the new school term, many of us find September a crucial pivot point at work.
As I write this in the UK, we are in a heatwave—the last blast of summer for a few days—which serves as a poignant reminder: although we're on the cusp of autumn, climate change increasingly disrupts these ancient cycles. It's yet another sign that our choices and actions today will shape the Septembers of the future.
And what of work?
September can be an emotionally tough month as we mourn the passing of summer and look ahead to a mountain of work that has to be done before we stop for the Christmas holidays.
To #WorkKind is to work creatively and productively with your colleagues, the communities we work in and serve, and the natural world.
As we navigate the shifting landscapes of both the natural world and our professional lives, September reminds us of the ever-constant nature of change. It's an opportunity for reflection, preparation, and action—both for the natural world and our places in it.
Much like nature transitions from the abundance of summer to the resourcefulness of autumn, so too do we need to adjust our approach at work. As we stand on the cusp of change, both in the natural world and in our professional lives, let's take this moment to reassess. Ask yourself: How will you embody the resourcefulness of the busy squirrel in your work this season? Take your cues from the rhythm of nature: make time to celebrate your accomplishments so far this year and prepare diligently for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the rest of this year.