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Averyt: Autumn Leaves

(Host) More than the other seasons, poet and commentator Anne Averyt thinks autumn is the season of change, a time of passing. But before it's gone she wants to delight in its presence.

(Averyt) I wasn't yet finished savoring summer this year when autumn arrived. As usual, fall snuck up on me, jumped out and shouted Boo! Reality has an annoying way of intruding on our day dreams. Reverie is brief and so is summer.

I was still floating on a cloud, adrift above the daffodils, still walking through the lush green of early evening dew, when suddenly fall rushed in. More than any other season, it seems fall is the season of change, the time of passing.

Spring is about renewal, the return of warmth, the reawakening of life. Summer is just plain fat and lazy and Old Man Winter, white and crusty. But autumn, when it comes, stomps its foot and demands our attention with its confusion of color and parsimony of light. In October, daylight dwindles and the mountains dapple into pied beauty as autumn rings out a clarion call of change, giving us no choice but to listen.

I remember the signs of autumn growing up in suburban Philadelphia - brownwings that fell like miniature helicopters from oak trees and horse chestnuts breaking out of spiky green shells - both collected for a child's treasure trove. In high school, fall was the time to run the hockey fields and caravan through town on a Saturday afternoon, celebrating a football victory.

Over the years I've learned the man-made signs of autumn in Vermont. Woodpiles climbing in drive ways, ski racks back on top of station wagons and newscasters telling us which parts of the state are peak.

I've lived through so many Vermont autumns now that I think I'm beginning to channel Robert Frost. Even his name speaks what lies just around the corner - frosty nights followed by the first early snow.

Fall is official now. The air that began to crisp a few weeks ago, the chill that started sneaking up on September nights tell me summer is past. Change is not only in the air, but in the light as the sun's arc shifts in the afternoon sky and stretches shadows long on the sidewalk.

Still, I think it's important in this raucous season to hold on to a moment in time. I don't want to count how many autumn leaves I've seen in my life or wonder how many autumns remain. I just want to savor the fading scent of hydrangeas when I walk to my door. I want to stand in the yard and look and listen to the squawking geese flying high overhead. I want to linger on my afternoon walk, breathe the crisp air and study the patterns of the shadows.

A season is passing and I want to honor its presence in this moment because another one exactly like it will never come again.

Free lance writer, Anne Averyt, lives in South Burlington, with her cat Sam and as many flowers as possible.
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