Only a few trees like the maple, aspen, oak and gum change leaves in the fall. Several factors account for this: temperature, precipitation and soil moisture, but the main reason is lack of daylight. These factors stop the production of chlorophyll in the leaves. Once that's gone then two other pigments show up since they have been masked by the chlorophyll. Sugar trapped in the leaves also leads to more vivid color. Sunlight helps with the production of the sugars and that's why after a few bright sunny days, the leaves are brighter than on rainy days.

The name September comes from the Latin septem, meaning seven, since it was the seventh month.

The birthstone for September is the sapphire. It is a form of corundum that is typically blue, a color caused by tiny bits of iron and titanium; the vivid, medium blues are more valuable than lighter or darker forms. Due to various trace elements, sapphires also appear in other colors. Sapphires were thought to encourage divine wisdom and protection. They symbolized purity, truth, and loyalty The sapphire, along with the related ruby, are the second-hardest natural gemstones, with only the diamond being harder.

The zodiac signs for September are Virgo (August 23 - September 22) and Libra (September 23 - October 22).

September has three birth flowers: the forget-me-not, the morning glory, and the aster. Forget-me-nots represent love and memories, asters represent love as well, and the morning glory represents unrequited love.

Some unusual National celebrations this month are:

-National Chicken Month

-National Rice Month

-National Potato Month

-National All-American Breakfast Month

September also has several United States and international holidays:

-Labor Day is the most well known holiday in September. It is observed every year on the first Monday in September and this year it’s on 09/02.

-Grandparent's Day is observed in the United States on the first Sunday after Labor Day and this year it’s on 09/08..

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, members of the Islamic terrorist group al-Queda hijacked four airliners as part of a series of coordinated attacks against targets in the United States. The Twin Towers in New York City were hit by one plane each, American Airlines Flight 11 and Flight 175, while American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, is thought to have been headed for the White House, but passengers overtook the hijackers and the plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people lost their lives during what the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil to date. Property and infrastructure damage amounted to over $10 billion. The attack is thought to have been ordered by Osama bin Laden, who was finally located and killed in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six in May 2011. The 9/11 Memorial Museum occupies the sites where the Twin Towers once stood.

-Constitution Day, celebrating the ratification of the governing document of the United States, is observed on the 17th.

-September 21 is recognized as the annual International Day of Peace. Observances range from a moment of silence at noon to events such as peace walks, concerts, and volunteering in the community.

-The autumn equinox, which is the traditional transition from summer into fall, takes place on September 23 this year. There are approximately equal hours of daylight and darkness.

-Native American Day is always celebrated on the 4th Friday of September, and this year it’s on 09/27.

September also is the start of apple picking season and choosing a variety can be tricky depending on how you want to use it. Ever eaten a mushy apple pie? Often, the cause of this is a soft apple variety that doesn’t hold up in the oven. When you use the right kinds of apples for your recipes, your dishes can go from good to delicious!

When it comes to cooking with apples, it may be helpful to know the following:

· 1 pound of apples = 2 large, 3 medium, or 4 to 5 small apples

· 1 pound of apples = 3 cups peeled and sliced apples

Below is a list of the best apples for baking and cooking. Note that some familiar apple varieties may be missing because they are best eaten fresh.

Braeburn - Applesauce - Tart, sweet, aromatic, tall shape, bright color

Cortland - Pies, Applesauce, Fruit Salad - Tart, crisp

Fuji - Baking - Sweet and juicy, firm, red skin

Gala - Dried, Cider - Mild, sweet, juicy, crisp, yellow-orange skin with red striping

Granny Smith - Baking - Moderately sweet, crisp flesh, green skin

Jonagold - Pie, Applesauce - Tangy-sweet, Yellow top, red bottom

Jonathan - Applesauce - Tart flesh, crisp, juicy, bright red on yellow skin

McIntosh - Applesauce - Juicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh, red skin

Newtown Pippin - Pie, Applesauce, Cider - Sweet-tart flesh, crisp, greenish-yellow skin

Rome Beauty - Baking, Cider - Mildly tart, crisp, greenish-white flesh, thick skin

Winesap - Applesauce, Pie, Cider - Very juicy, sweet-sour flavor, winey, aromatic, sturdy, red skin

Hope you enjoy your September as much as we plan too!

Sources: Excerpts from The Old Farmer's Almanac and various online sources

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