Autumn’s glory is spent. The trees that so recently were aflame with crimson and gold are barren now. Songbirds have fled south for comfort, surrendering the sky to flights of crows — outbound for their morning feed and inbound to the nighttime roost.
The only colors are the muted tan of harvested fields, the pale purple of wild asters blooming at roadside and the fathomless blue depths of a painter’s cloudless sky.
I have rich memories of this season and of times spent afoot behind dogs, with quail coveys bursting from the cover at meadows’ edges. I see the faces and hear, as clear as yesterday, the voices of friends with whom those fine outings were shared.
And there is no melancholy in this — only a sense of the luck of having lived those days and the great good fortune of being able to live them again, if only in remembrance.
So now we are in the dark of the year — a cold and somber passage, lightened a bit by the holiday ahead.
What chance might there be that the season’s occasion of joy and giving will ease somewhat — if only temporarily — the climate of rancor and contention that has come to characterize the conduct of our public affairs?
At a time when one island nation has suffered near-total devastation from a monster storm, when a recent spawn of tornadoes has carved a path of ruin across a central region of the American heartland, and when the unfortunate citizens of at least a score of countries are trapped in a crossfire of incompetent rule and mindless fanaticism, is it too much to hope that those entrusted with the governance of the most prosperous country on Earth would find some more productive activity than endless bickering?
If this is “the winter of our discontent,” there’s consolation to be found in the certainty of the time of greening that lies ahead, “the spring of our satisfaction.” And in my mind, I’m traveling there already.
One hundred twenty days from now, the pink of redbud and white bursts of dogwood blossoms will light the woodland hills. Then morel mushrooms will push up through the leaf litter. A few weeks more and the thorny blackberry thickets will be heavy with fruit — a sweet reward for anyone willing to bear the pain of picking.
Likely as not, the stars of the political subculture will be at it again, polishing their invectives, flaunting their egos and doing everything in their power to prevent any constructive business from being done.
Will the government shut down? Will the country default? Will there be another sequester?
If so, these calamities will have to go forward without any involvement on my part. I don’t even plan to notice, and I certainly promise not to write about them. There’ll be plenty of other scribes and talkers willing and eager to handle that.
I’ll have friends coming from Florida and Indiana and Seattle to enjoy the spring and converse with turkey gobblers. And two daughters with whom I’ll hope to spend some pretty days on our fishing lake.
As far as I’m concerned, any boobs determined to wreck the nation are on their own.