This September has been uncertain as far as the weather is concerned. The month has been unable to choose whether to don a jacket and settle into autumn or keep on its flip-flops and enjoy summer a little longer. So we've had some warm days, some cool ones, windy days, and rain.
Like the wavering weather this month, many people have trouble letting go of the summer months and welcoming fall. Some people just love hot weather and visits to the beach. Others don't want to return to the school year schedule. And still others are stung by cold, hard memories of last year's snowy winter.
Personally, I enjoy autumn's cooler weather more than any other season. I love the crisp smell of fall and when the leaves start to turn. Even with September's indecisive attitude, there has been a definite swing toward fall, including open windows and cooler nights.
Autumn means back to school. I homeschool my children and enjoy teaching lessons outside as often as possible. No one likes to be cooped up inside on a beautiful fall day. One of our favorite outdoor places to learn is at Mill Creek Park. The park offers classes on a wide range of subjects, including one on carnivorous plants.
We took the class last year and it was amazing. The instructor, Ms. Anita Wesler, was not only knowledgeable, but she was also terrific with kids. Live plants, including a pitcher plant, were passed around for observation, and each child was given a Venus' flytrap terrarium to take home.
A meat-eating plant is strange and intriguing on so many levels. I am immediately reminded of the Champion School production of "Little Shop of Horrors" that I saw years ago.
My children were utterly fascinated by their new flytraps. Yet they were torn. They wanted to properly care for and feed their ''pet'' plants, but the idea of a plant devouring a little fly or spider was, well, kind of creepy.
Since tap water could be deadly to a Venus' flytrap, the girls collected rain water from the downspouts on our house, just as Ms. Wesler had recommended. On rainy days, they gathered several bottles of water so they could care for their plants even when the weather was dry.
And still my daughters each worried about her plant capturing and eating a fly.
The day that one of the plants caught its first prey was filled with excitement. A fly had gotten stuck in the terrarium, and the kids watched with suppressed enthusiasm. The fly smelled the sweet scent, crawled into the "mouth" of the plant, and tripped the trigger. In a flash, the plant shut tight over the struggling fly. The girls screamed and laughed and wanted to see it again.
My children were no longer wary about capturing insects for their Venus' flytraps. They tried catching flies by hand. They carried spiders from their webs. They no longer worried about touching creepy-crawlies. It was all for the good of the plant.
Yeah, they were a bit indecisive about the experience at first. However, they soon learned that there was fun and excitement available to them if they were open to it.
Maybe September and those of you still pining for summer could try to enjoy the merits of autumn. Put away your flip-flops, pull out your hoodie, and step into cooler weather with a smile on your face. The excitement of fall is out there, if you're open to it.
Harley is a Howland resident. E-mail her at editorial @ tribtoday.com.