Fall’s beauty can restore better angels of our nature
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