Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Morn

by Tony Auth (b 1942), Pulitzer Prize Recipient, 1976

When we lived in Philadelphia, it was always a treat to open the Inquirer around this time of year and see how cartoonist Tony Auth would capture the end of season. Always humorous, yet poignant, Auth knows how to convey that keen sense of sadness that comes with leaving the shore and returning to school, not merely because the fun is over but, more significantly, because life is urging us on at its own pace, not ours.

As C. S. Lewis writes in The Screwtape Letters: "The humans live in time, and experience life successively. To experience much of it . . . they must experience change." Thus, Lewis explains, God has given us the seasons, which strike a balance between our need for change and our longing for permanence: "each season different yet every year the same. . . . always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme."*

Here are a couple more end of summer Auth favorites that I have been saving in my scrapbook for many years. I appreciate Auth's implication that in addition to the inevitability of seasonal change, a bit of each season is always lying just beneath the surface of every other season as well (click on each cartoon here and above to enlarge for details):

Or as my Grand-dad Lindsey always used to say
on the First of September:
"September morn
when the woodbine twineth
and the whacky - doodle mourneth."

(If anyone knows a source for this rhyme, please tell!
This Google Doodle captures the spirit!)

Around this time of year,
my brother Bruce always reminds me to listen to
*Mother Earth and Father Time
from the animated Charlotte's Web
I think you'll find that it matches right up with
Tony Auth's drawings and the C. S. Lewis passage.


  1. Friends from facebook have helped:

    Donna Carriker says, "There's a 1898 song called "When the Woodbine Twineth", but September Morn is not mentioned, so it probably has nothing to do with it."

    Bill LaMora says, 'Don't know the source but it is "and the wang-doodle mourneth for its first born' . . . hope that helps."

  2. Herman P. Wilson writes: "The coming of fall has always been important to me . . . a new academic year is ready to begin . . . excitement, anticipation, and a welcome to former students and new students . . . and, even more so, a sense of renewal, that life will continue, bring hope. and a greater joy, both mental and emotional, to the ordinary aspects of living."

  3. Donna Carriker adds, "William Cowper Brann (1855-1898) is the author who wrote about the wang-doodle mourneth, but I haven't found the piece -- just a page about the author.


    Burnetta Hinterthuer (a botanist)wonders: "I love that, whacky doodle - wonder what plant it is?"

  4. I hadn't thought of it that way, but woodbine is a plant, so why not whacky - doodle?

  5. Tony Brown asks: ~ Are you sure it's not a variation of Howlin' Wolf's blues classic "Wang-dang-doodle" as in " We gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long ..."?


  7. October's Bright Blue Weather

    O suns and skies and clouds of June,
    And flowers of June together,
    Ye cannot rival for one hour
    October's bright blue weather;

    When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
    Belated, thriftless vagrant,
    And goldenrod is dying fast,
    And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

    When gentians roll their fingers tight
    To save them for the morning,
    And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
    Without a sound of warning;

    When on the ground red apples lie
    In piles like jewels shining,
    And redder still on old stone walls
    Are leaves of woodbine twining;

    When all the lovely wayside things
    Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
    And in the fields still green and fair,
    Late aftermaths are growing;

    When springs run low, and on the brooks,
    In idle golden freighting,
    Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
    Of woods, for winter waiting;

    When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
    By twos and twos together,
    And count like misers, hour by hour,
    October's bright blue weather.

    O sun and skies and flowers of June,
    Count all your boasts together,
    Love loveth best of all the year
    October's bright blue weather.

    Helen Hunt Jackson (1830 - 1885)

  8. Mother Earth & Father Time


    European honeysuckle or woodbine, is a species of flowering plant in the family Caprifoliaceae native to much of Europe. Growing to 7 m (23 ft) or more in height, it is a vigorous evergreen twining climber. It is found as far north as southern Norway and Sweden. In the UK it is one of two native honeysuckles, the other being Lonicera xylosteum. It is often found in woodland or in hedgerows or scrubland. The tubular, two-lipped flowers[2] are creamy white or yellowish and very sweet smelling (especially during the night). The plant is usually pollinated by moths or long-tongued bees and develops bright red berries.