When we were kids, September seemed to be the “end” of things: Summer, freedom, playing with friends, summer loves and maybe a first job. The cooler evenings reminded us that all of that was soon to be over, but the wistfulness subsided as soon as school shopping began.

There was renewed excitement for interesting book covers and notebooks, as well as new pens, pencils, and that always needed eraser. Some people got new clothes every year, or at least clothes that were new to them. So, while there was a sadness for what had passed, there was a happiness of looking ahead to new experiences.

As we had children and grew older, September became a time of a little quiet and even more time for ourselves when the children went off to school. It was a time to have a few moments to breathe after an active and demanding summer, and to make a cup of tea or sit with a sandwich or salad in silence.

As the clock approached 2:30 each day, we would anticipate the homecoming with all its exuberance, and the children would move into snacks and homework and playing with friends. Then came the usual questions about what would be in the evening meal, and the September cycle was in full swing.

Today, we don’t have to go school shopping or get new clothes or pick out notebooks or book covers. September days seem different now.

We have passed summer, with all the company who come to Maine for vacation; we have changed beds and are past shopping for the blueberries and lobster that all Maine visitors expect. September is quieter and calmer and cool nights bring us thoughts of late fall and the colder winter ahead.

We can get out the sweaters and hunker down, or we can find new beginnings in September, too.

We can sign up for a class to improve our minds or our bodies; we can start a new hobby; we can find a volunteer position that suits our skills; we can join a club or church; we can help a neighbor button up their home for winter, stack firewood, or pledge to take them grocery shopping every week. We can start a book club or read to children at the library or preschool.

September is a great time to find a new activity to keep ourselves busy and looking forward, beyond all the things we have to do just to survive a Maine winter. In September, the wind can howl or the days can be sunny. We can find ourselves overdressed or underdressed in the same sweater, but rather than just sitting home, we can become more active and start a new and healthy trend for ourselves. Invite a friend or neighbor to join you, and you will be excited when each new September comes around.

A lot is said about beginning anew on January 1. People make all kinds of resolutions that have all but fled in the first three weeks. Who decreed that January is the only time to take stock and make changes? September is just as good. It marks the end of one season and the beginning of another, and the weather is much better than what we will find in January.

Fall and winter can be more than a time to eat comfort foods with lots of bread, and become as inactive as a hibernating bear. September is the time to begin new habits that will take us through that cold winter into spring, without putting on that fifteen pounds, or letting our brains become too lazy.

Pick up a volunteer form, or a new book, or start an exercise program, or join a group. Find something new and exciting this September, for self- improvement, or for community or world improvement. Find a cause that speaks to you, and see what you have to offer. Even homebound folks can write letters to our military personnel, which can brighten their days.

Go grab your sweater and encourage others to join you. Now you are ready to inspire someone!