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The Annual Autumn Lament

intenteffect, via Flickr creative commons

Something in the sudden acute awareness of slanting, September sunlight, standing amid fallen crimson maple leaves and with long-faded hopes for a Red Sox pennant bid aggravates my annual autumn lament. Despite fall foliage which will again be absolutely gorgeous, I remain vexed.

There are only two seasons: "summer waxing" and "summer waning." The former runs January to June. The latter opens at the dying echoes of Fourth of July Fireworks and extends through December.

We instinctively understand the undeniable metaphor of the seasons: spring is youth, summer, our most-productive sunshiny middle age, and autumn represents the first gray hairs of senescence; a gradual descent to winter's little death. 

Who can resist heaving a sigh even as the finest autumn weather is upon us? The collective wisdom of a lifetime is accumulated in the elderly just as summer sunlight seems stored in warm flat stones of the garden and the scent of ripe Fox grapes in late September.

When pulling my garden, muscles ache a little more - particularly my heart as I reflect on how now-aged loved ones and friends have blazed the "autumn trail" for me to follow. Will I embrace the autumn which awaits each of us and face my own impending winter with clear-eyed, stoic practicality of  hardy Yankee ancestors?

We all likely know and admire wise, elderly mentors who are - even now in their autumn years - quietly blazing trails toward approaching winter…  Perhaps I'll gather a bouquet colorful autumn leaves to share… and to tell them how the forest will forever remain more beautiful for their having once shared it with me.

Naturalist Dave Anderson is Senior Director of Education for The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, where he has worked for over 30 years. He is responsible for the design and delivery of conservation-related outreach education programs including field trips, tours and presentations to Forest Society members, conservation partners, and the general public.

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