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September is the ninth month of the Gregorian calendar. It was the seventh month in the old Roman calendar, and its name comes from the Latin septem, meaning seven. September later became the ninth month when the ancient Romans moved the beginning of their year from March 1 to January 1. September has had 29 days, 31 days, and, since the time of the Roman emperor Augustus, 30 days.

Summer ends and autumn begins at the autumnal equinox, on September 22 or 23 in the northern half of the world. September is harvest-time for many crops. It was known as the "harvest month" in Switzerland.

Many peoples have celebrated harvest festivals in September. In many European countries, the people held feasts and games. In the USA, the "Harvest Home" supper celebrated the end of harvest. The ancient Greeks honoured Demeter, "the goddess of agriculture" during this month, and the ancient Romans honoured their goddess of agriculture, whom they called Ceres.

September symbols - September's flower is the morning-glory. Sapphire is the gem, a true transparent blue precious stone. Also sapphire blue, bright blue. Greek sappheiros lapis lazuli.

September quotes:

Just after the death of the flowers, and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season, when Nature is all aglow. - Author Unknown

By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer's best of weather and autumn's best of cheer. - Helen Hunt Jackson

The morrow was a bright September morn;
The earth was beautiful as if newborn;
There was nameless splendor everywhere,
that wild exhilaration in the air,
which makes the passers in the city street
congratulate each other as they meet.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Colette (1873-1954)

A French authoress who adored cats. Colette wrote "Claudine," the semi-autobiographical series of novels and also "Cheri" in 1920. In La Chatte (1933) the writer describes the tortures of jealousy when a young husband has eyes, and arms, only for Sara, his beloved cat. Camilla the wife seeks to destroy the object of her husband's passion - and fails, only to lose her husband forever...

Sara, the feline heroine in the story is based on La Chatte, the cat which Colette and her husband Maurice Goudeket shared. La Chatte, a Chartreuse, was a delightful creature with a plushy blue coat and yellow eyes who selected her mistress at a cat show.

The many cats in Colette's works include the pampered La Belle Franchette, Babou, a black cat with a penchant for fruit and vegetables from the kitchen garden and her own Angora, Kiki-la-Doucette and French Bulldog Toby-Chien. Dialogue des Betes was a collection of "conversations" between these two pets. Colette, the flamboyant cat-lover who posed as the Sphinx in a photograph which was thought to be both daring and controversial, said: "There are no ordinary cats..."

Quote of the month:

"For he is the Tribe of Tiger. For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger." - Christopher Smart (English Poet)

Superstitious Cats

In Britain, on the Yorkshire coast, wives of fishermen believe that their menfolk will return safely if a black cat is kept in the house.

By Edgar Allen Poe's Cat

On a night quite unenchanting
When the rain was downward slanting
I awakened to the ranting
Of the man I catch mice for.
Tipsy and a bit unshaven
Poe was talking to a Raven
Perched above the chamber door.
"Raven's very tasty," thought I, as I tiptoed o'er the floor,
"There is nothing I like more."

Soft upon the rug I treaded,
Calm and carefully I headed
Towards his roost atop that dreaded bust of Pallas I deplore.
While the Bard and birdie chattered
I made sure that nothing clattered,
Creaked or snapped, or fell, or shattered
As I crossed the barron floor,
For his house is crammed with trinkets, curious and weird decor,
Bric-a-brac and junk galore.
Still the Raven never fluttered,
Standing stock still as he uttered
In a voice that shrieked and sputtered
His two cents worth: "Nevermore."

While this dirge the birdbrain kept up
Oh, so silently I crept up
Then I crouched and quickly leapt up,
Pouncing on the feathered bore.
Soon he was a heap of plumage, plus a little blood and gore!
Only this and nothing more.

"Ah!" my pickled poet cried out,
"Pussycat, it's time I dried out!
Never sat I in my hideout
Talking to a bird before!
How I've wallowed in self-pity
While my gallant, noble kitty
Put an end to that damned ditty!"
Then I heard him start to snore.
Back atop the door I clambered, eyed that statue I abhor,
Jumped - and smashed it on the floor!

The Cheshire Cat

She was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough a few feet away.

The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.

"Cheshire Puss," she began, rather timidly, as she did not know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. "Come, it's pleased so far," thought Alice, and she went on. "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a great deal on where you want to get to," said the cat.

"I don't much care where..." said Alice.

"Then is doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"... so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the cat, "if you only walk long enough."

Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. "What sort of people live about here?"

"in that direction ," the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a Hatter: and in that direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad."

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

Alice didn't think that proved it at all; however, she went on "And how do you know that you're mad?"

"To begin with," said the cat, "a dog's not mad, you grant that?"

"I suppose so," said Alice.

"Well then," the cat went on "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it is pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad."

"I call it purring, not growling," said Alice.

Alice's Adventure in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

(One explanation for the expression "grinning like a Cheshire cat" was that in the county of Cheshire, cheese was once sold moulded in to the shape of a grinning cat.)

Nothing is quite so smug as the smile on a cat's face as it licks its lips after polishing off a saucer of something special. Hence the expression "the cat's got the cream."

Classical Cats

Francesco Petrarch was a fourteenth-century Italian poet and scholar. He wrote numerous sonnets, madrigals and songs, almost all inspired by his unrequited passion for a lady called Laura. Her noted role as his muse, alongside his grand and constant love for her throughout his life, is legendary. In later life, however, Petrarch retired with a rather lovely companion called Arqua, whom he praised as "second only to Laura" in his affections. Arqua, was of course, a cat.

Petrarch's Puss

The Tuscan bard of deathless fame
Nursed in his beast a double flame,
Unequally divided;
And when I say I had his heart,
While Laura played the second part,
I must not be derided.

For my fidelity was such.
It merited regard as much
As Laura's grace and beauty;
She first inspired the poet's lay,
But since I drove the mice away,
His love repaid my duty.

Through all my exemplary life,
So well did I in constant strife
Employ my claws and curses,
That even now though I am dead,
These nibbling wretches dare not tread
On one of Petrarch's verses.

Translated from Latin by Antonius Quaeringus.

Recommended book:

Nine Lives - A year in the life of a cat family.

Authors: Jane Burton & Michael Allaby. Photographs by Jane Burton & Kim Taylor.

The fascinating secrets of your cat's behaviour revealed as never before.

Over 120 unique photographs in full colour record the birth of the Nine Lives kittens and their amazing development to maturity. Special action photographic sequences illustrate the cats in miraculous motion.

ISBN: 0-85223-403-1 (Hardback)

Published by Ebury Press, National Magazine House, 72 Broadwick Street, London, W1V 2BP, United Kingdom.

Did you know?

In ancient Rome, the cat was a symbol of liberty.

And finally...

Quote: "Those fortunate enough to have been touched by its mystique will agree that once the strange Oriental magic of the Siamese cat has been revealed to them, they will remain forever in its enchanted spell..." - The Fabulous Siamese, Joan Moore, 1986

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