The sun is slower to rise, and the leaves on the ash trees in the coulees are starting to give in to cooler weather. I’m sitting in my big chair watching the branches bob and sway to a chilly wind.

It rained last night. In a few weeks it could be snow.

So we are digging out sweaters and switching the thermostat over, putting on socks and eating dinner before 10 p.m. because the sun is down by 9.

Yes, it’s September, and the weather is preparing us. It’s September, and it’s time to make those plums into jelly.

It’s September, and it’s bow-hunting season.

I’m not a bow-hunter myself, but there are a few men out here on the ranch and a couple neighbor women down the road who don’t mind the sting of summer leaving. Because it means they can cover themselves in camouflage, sit up in a tree or behind the cover of a blind. They will try not to breathe, sneeze, fart, move, or resemble anything but a branch or a tuft of tall grass and wait for hours in every kind of weather for the proper animal to cross their path.

Hunting, if practiced properly, is a patient sport, but bow-hunting takes grit, determination and a real sense of understanding the patterns of deer, wind direction and how to scratch your nose without moving.

And those are just the skills you need to sit, watch and wait. That’s not even taking into consideration how you learn to be Robin Hood.

If you want to see Robin Hood, just grab a cup of coffee and sit on our deck after work on any given day of the week and watch the man I married aim, shoot and bulls-eye again and again. I feel for that poor fake deer that has been sitting in the back yard for months, fooling my mother every time.

My husband, who has spent the last few years of our lives focused on building this house, has caught up enough on construction to allow himself to dive into a passion again.

It’s been refreshing to watch.

Because life out here isn’t always the laid-back country living most people imagine. The man works long hours in the booming oil industry and then comes home to push dirt in the Bobcat or saw, nail and measure something. He’s missed out on some of the best parts about living out here because he wants us to have a nice place to live.

But for his birthday he bought himself a new bow (and then gave me credit for the gift), and the past few weeks I’ve watched his shoulders drop a bit and the lines sort of release from his face.

Our kitchen table is filled with game cameras, fletching supplies, binoculars, water canteens and things I can’t name because I have no idea what they are.

Just a couple draws of that bow, an encounter with a big buck in the twilight of late summer, breathing slowly, sitting quietly has reignited him and transformed him back into a that kid I grew up with, the one who knew nothing about mortgages, loan deadlines or the particular stress of management.

All my life I’ve known what my passions are, what I can do for myself to escape real life: Climb a hill, close the door to my room and sing a song, take a photo of something. Where I’ve found myself in trouble is when I’ve refused myself the right to those things, believing there are more important tasks that need me.

Watching my husband rekindle a passion this week has been watching a man come to life again, reminding and reinforcing my notion that we cannot be just our work and our worry.

We must also be who we’ve always been in the fall when the leaves give way to the cold. We must do what we’ve been known to do, what we want to do. In September.

Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. Readers can reach her at

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