Saturday, September 22, 2007

Summer air, autumn sky

I took yesterday off and spent part of the morning in the courtyard of Bonjour Bakery Café. The temperature was 88ºF as yellow leaves and an occasional twig fell onto me and my table and into my bag. The air was hot and the atmosphere hazy while the sun, now lower in the southern sky, was shining with the muted light that comes as a relief after the high, overhead glare of summer. It was the perfect day for enjoying summer air and an autumn sky.

It's become a cliché to say that fall is your favorite season. People who prefer autumn often cite specific reasons—the brilliant color of the trees, the smell of leaves burning, the crisp air, and childhood memories.

I believe that the reason we like fall, and spring, is deeper than sights, smells, sensations, or even memories. Fall and spring are times of change, and change keeps us from becoming too complacent and falling too deeply into a prolonged rut. Winter and summer, each in its way, wear on us. The short days and long nights, the bitter cold, the snow, and the confinement indoors, or of the heat, humidity, and the sometimes unrelenting sun, can exhaust, dull, and depress us after they have continued unabated for a long period of time. No matter how mild the winter or how pleasant the summer, we look forward to the change that spring and autumn bring—budding and falling leaves give us something new and different to look forward to and remind us that all lives have phases—sometimes of growth, sometimes of rest and renewal.

That is why we love spring and fall, and why the delightfully unusual juxtaposition of summer air with an autumn sky enchants me so. Without change, without the unexpected, there would be no purpose and zest in life. I live because tomorrow may be different than today. That is my hope and my inspiration, and my despair.

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