Fall’s beauty can re­store bet­ter an­gels of our na­ture

El Dorado News-Times - - Viewpoint - Tom Pur­cell, au­thor of “Misad­ven­tures of a 1970’s Child­hood,” a hu­mor­ous mem­oir avail­able at ama­zon. com, is a Pitts­burgh Tri­bune-Re­view hu­mor colum­nist.

Au­tumn has ar­rived – and it couldn’t come soon enough.

I love this time of year – the bril­liant col­ors, the chilly air, the sweet yet tart taste of ap­ple cider, and the smell of oak burn­ing in a firepit.

I love child­hood mem­o­ries of Devil’s Night mis­chief and walk­ing for miles on Hal­loween night to col­lect ev­ery last piece of free candy I could.

Au­tumn brings calm, a sweet sur­ren­der to the in­evitable turn­ing of our sea­sonal cy­cle, when leaves fall and na­ture pre­pares for bit­ter cold just ahead.

Whereas spring is about new life and fresh starts – and sum­mer is about be­ing youth­ful, play­ful, care­free, even reck­less – au­tumn is about har­vest­ing the hard-earned fruits of our labors and em­brac­ing the re­al­ity that all good things must come to an end.

Au­tumn is a time of wis­dom and re­flec­tion – a re­minder from na­ture to stop tak­ing our­selves so se­ri­ously.

As the world around us ex­plodes into bril­liant col­ors, it’s im­pos­si­ble not to be af­fected. Au­tumn’s beauty is mag­nif­i­cent and mov­ing. That beauty re­minds us how small we are in the broader scheme of things.

It also should re­mind us that our pol­i­tics are even smaller in the broader scheme of things, and that we ought to put pol­i­tics into proper per­spec­tive – even in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year.

Sure, pas­sions are height­ened right now. The hy­per­bole and vit­riol in our po­lit­i­cal dis­course has made rea­soned dis­cus­sions al­most im­pos­si­ble. Emo­tion – ha­tred, anger and vi­o­lence – is be­com­ing com­mon­place in the streets and at po­lit­i­cal ral­lies.

Our next pres­i­dent is im­por­tant, in­deed, but not so im­por­tant that any­one should threaten vi­o­lence and ri­ot­ing if they don’t get their way.

The in­tegrity of our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem – in which our “rev­o­lu­tions” oc­cur on a reg­u­lar, well-or­ga­nized ba­sis through peace­ful elec­tions – is far more im­por­tant than any in­di­vid­ual can­di­date or cam­paign.

We need to take a chill pill, Amer­ica – and open our hearts and minds to au­tumn’s beauty.

I’m blessed to have a nice big yard sur­rounded by woods in the coun­try. I built a big firepit that can ac­com­mo­date sev­eral peo­ple – even dur­ing this pan­demic, when we’re asked to stay six feet apart.

One of my fa­vorite things to do this time of the year is to bring to­gether friends from all my ac­tiv­i­ties – peo­ple from dif­fer­ent walks of life.

My friends hold a va­ri­ety of po­lit­i­cal views, from lib­eral to lib­er­tar­ian to con­ser­va­tive. I love to mix up a pot of hot ap­ple cider with a touch of Ir­ish whiskey and watch my friends en­gage in spir­ited though civil con­ver­sa­tions around a roar­ing fire.

If we can do that, any­one can.

Come on, Amer­ica. Au­tumn has fi­nally ar­rived. Af­ter such a nutty, re­stric­tive spring and sum­mer, let’s spend a chilly fall night out­side.

Let’s hand cut some fire­wood and set it in the firepit just right. Let’s stuff some kin­dling wood and crum­pled up pa­per be­neath it. Let’s nur­ture the flame into a roar­ing fire and roast hot dogs and marsh­mal­lows as we sip on hot ap­ple cider with a dash of Ir­ish whiskey.

Au­tumn gives us the op­por­tu­nity to sur­ren­der to the bet­ter an­gels of our na­ture, so that we put our pol­i­tics and our­selves back into proper per­spec­tive, to the ben­e­fit of our shared repub­lic.

Tom Pur­cell Colum­nist

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