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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

October Days*

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat October 14, 2007
as "October is a time that awakens some souls"

Copyright © 2007 by Ralph Couey

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots
may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on
the feelings, as now in October.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

Everyone has a favorite time of the year, something in a season that touches us in a deeply personal way.

Spring is it for many, because of the sense of new life and renewal. It is a return to the open feeling of blue skies and sunshine after a long winter indoors. Flowers begin to bloom and the healing warmth of the sun sinks deep into the bones.

For others, summer rules. The days are long and warm and everything is green and growing. It’s a time when the memories of childhood are born. People enjoy the “good tired” of a day of hard work or play. Family vacations produce high adventure and the enjoyment of just being together. And in the evenings, folks relax on front porches, enjoying cold lemonade and good conversation in the long, purple twilight.

Winter lights the fire in some of us, with the beauty of snow, on the ground sparkling like a field of diamonds in the bright sun, or falling in huge, soft flakes from leaden skies. It’s a time of holidays, families gathered amongst love and lights. Sledding, skiing, even hiking fills the short days. And afterwards, the magic of a fireplace, hot cocoa, and the One you love sharing long, intimate evenings.

For me, autumn is the time when my spirit comes alive. Having grown up in Missouri, summer was a time to be endured. From mid-June through mid-September, temperatures regularly soared into the 90s and beyond, accompanied by humidity that had to be felt to be believed. In mid-September, when the first fingers of Canadian cool pushed away the heat, we celebrated.

By the time October arrived, the heat, haze, and humidity had left for good. The hazy, milk-colored sky of summer was replaced by a cool, vivid blue that took my breath away. The sun, as it passed the equinox and descended towards the horizon, became bright and cheerily yellow. In the evenings, sunlight angled through leaves made brilliant in their fall colors. I spent a lot of time walking alone on those days, reveling in the cool air, my footsteps accompanied by the swishing sounds of fallen leaves. My very soul seemed to channel the snap and color of the world around me.

Sports took on an entirely different feeling. Baseball was winding up to its dramatic climax, the World Series. Saturday afternoons were stadiums fiery with collegial spirit. And on Friday nights, we all gathered, like supplicants to a temple, drawn to the lights and sounds of High School football.

Motorcycling added another thick layer of joy to fall. The bright, vivid colors along the tightly twisted roads bisecting cathedral-like forests created feelings of joy that I simply cannot explain or articulate. Like love, it is a sense more easily felt than described.

“No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
--John Donne

Perhaps you will see me, walking Luzerne Street in the evening, or riding Route 381, or perhaps just sitting in my back yard under a pair of Maple trees, their leaves as bright as the autumn sun. Know that my heart is at peace; because for me, there is no greater joy than being alive in October.
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