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The most eloquent season of them all

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Fall gets a bad rap. Maybe it is because there are so many negative connotations.

You can fall and get hurt.

Things fall apart.

We can fall in the rankings and be depressed.

Life can seem to be in free fall and it will make us feel out of sorts or out of control.

There is another way to consider the word.

Fall – the season – is the most eloquent of the four.

There have been some gorgeous fall days of late, and on one of them I sat briefly looking into a wooded area in which one tree's leaves had turned orange and red amid the other green ones. And I thought:

Unlike spring, which like the word implies, bursts upon us in a riot of color and energy, fall makes itself known slowly.

Fall is a subtle season. It whispers to us that this is the way things are going to be, so we should resign ourselves to it – and move with its imposed slower pace.

The energy of the outdoors is waning and soon the cold winds of November will blow us indoors or at least into heavy clothing.

Comparison of the seasons of the year to the seasons of human life is inevitable.

In the spring and summer of our time on this earth we don't think about our fall. There is so much growing to do, personally, professionally and in our relationships.

Fall seems dull and portending of a colder time.

But in the fall of one's life, the complete opposite of that earlier perception becomes apparent.

As I noted, fall the season arrives in a slower, subtler fashion and so does one's fall time of life.

Inasmuch as I am definitely in that season, I can say that one of the positive changes is that the vast dramas that play out in life are not as intense.

These things blow through and we can find ourselves using those words: “Really?” or “Seriously?”

Contrary to what we might expect, other aspects of life become even more intense: a kiss goodbye at the door, the movement of the sun throughout the day, the laughter of a child, the smiles on the faces of one's spouse, adult children or grandchildren. These are the colors of our lifetime fall.

My late father often sat at family gatherings, an unlit pipe in his hand, his legs crossed, his slight frame sinking into a chair and he watched. He would smile at the slightest of amusements. He kept a watch on all of us – his wife, his son, his grandchildren – not in a defensive posture, but one emanating from his love.

I can only aspire to do the same.

It is equally true that he could not hear as well in those days, but I can't help but think that he had tacitly concluded that hearing was not all it seemed. Life was felt and the senses just a supplement to that.

We have in our family a picture of my first daughter, Heather, in the backyard of her grandparents' home. She is wearing an adult-size knitted blue sweater that she liked to put on and she is blowing soap bubbles. Dad (Pop Pop to her) is seated on the milk box by the back door, ever-present pipe in hand, and is smiling at Heather. The picture says more directly what I am trying to convey in way too many words.

Fall is the wisest of the seasons, having absorbed all the changes since the prior winter and realizing the inevitable movement of things.

The thought reminds me of the late singer-songwriter Harry Chapin singing: “All my life's circle; Sunrise and sundown; Moon rolls through the nighttime; ‘til the daybreak comes around.”

In another stanza, he sings: “I found you a thousand times; I guess you've done the same; But then we lose each other; It's like a children's game.”

I hope the late Mr. Chapin is right about that. Life, like the seasons, is certainly worth experiencing more than once.

Happy autumn!

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via email to

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