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9/19/2011
FALL
CATEGORY: Blogging

I really have to stop reading about Greece and the coming Euro-catastrophe. It’s spoiling my appetite and giving me major league writer’s block.

So I shall leave worldly things behind this morning and concentrate on more ethereal pursuits; such as bemoaning the loss of summer and plunging into the pit of depression over the coming change of season.

Fall begins officially on September 23 but here in my little corner of the Heartland, it’s been here for about a week already. Overnight temps have hovered at 40 or below and  Jack Frost has already come a’nipping, spreading a glaze over the lawn like an artist would wash a landscape. Even with bright sunshine during the day, there is a bite to the wind — little fingers of cold that penetrate your not-quite-fall clothing all the way to the bone, issuing a a warning to take heed the auguries of Fall and dress more warmly next time out.

Inevitably, your next excursion out of doors results in over compensating and dressing as if it’s mid-winter thus discomfiting oneself  when your wardrobe malfunction leads to overheating and an abundance of sweat. Fall always takes a while to get used to as far as finding the optimal balance between freezing and roasting.

Actually, we have it all over the ancients as far as being comfortable during Fall. They basically had a skins-no skins wardrobe. We should feel their pain at not being blessed with having polyester and nylon which, among other modern materials, are shaped into windbreakers, light jackets, and long sleeve shirts in order to ward off the chill and make being outdoors during the Fall a less onerous experience.

Of course, the ancients had other advantages to make up for their lack of appropriate outer wear. They got to sit around campfires every night, eat meat off the bone, fool around on their mates without having to worry about divorce, and go hunting every day. For a man, it sounds idyllic. Except for the lack of indoor plumbing and the fact that their clothes probably smelled like a three week old dead Moose, I’d jump at the chance to live that kind of life.

Cro-Magnon man had fire to keep himself warm and so do we — except the fire is in our gas heaters which leads to another Fall tradition; the ceremonial Lighting of the Sacred Furnace.

No amount of sacred dancing or sacrifices offered to non-existent deities will ever result in being able to light the burner on the first try. This is partly due to me not reading the directions very closely (every year) but also because manufacturers deliberately make it difficult to light the beast so that one is forced to call –  in order to get life giving warmth into the house — the High Priest of Fall.

The Furnace Repairman.

He arrives and the second he walks in the door, your wallet is lighter by $75.  This is the offering he demands in order for him to deign to look at the Holy Cinerator. He takes apart the contraption piece by piece, laying the innards on the basement floor in no discernible pattern, thus assuring however long it takes him to fix the problem, it will take twice as long to put the infernal machine back together. In this way, the High Priest is able to become a Tycoon as well - sort of like being a TV Evangelist only without the gay sex scandals.

His last incantation finished, he presents his bill. What was it that I failed to do to get it started I ask, blinking back tears after confusing his invoice with the national debt and realizing I am in the wrong business. “Might help if you turn the gas on before trying to light it,” he says casually.

I can think of better ways to spend a Fall Saturday afternoon.

No matter. The sun rises later and sets earlier every day, something that must have terrified the ancients. Being quite clever (despite ludicrous theories about ancient astronauts helping them figure everything out), our ancestors discerned the notion that an offering to the gods was good insurance, just in case the sun decided not to come up one day or take it on the lamb and hightail it out of town permanently. They hadn;t a clue about our heliocentric solar system or even that the sun was a heavenly body. All they knew was that warmth was going out of their lives and appeasing a deity was in order.

So on the equinox - -when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator — our ancestors held religious ceremonies and offered sacrifices to assure the sun’s return to its former warmth. It shows how truly practical early man was and how science and faith played a role in their lives.

For me, I have no such practical thoughts despite knowing that the sun will once again shine warmly down upon us. It is the interregnum that depresses me. The long nights, the way that time nearly comes to a standstill (as opposed to the way it flies by during the summer), the endless, life draining battle with snow and ice, and finally, the realization that one more winter means there is one less winter before the end.

Irish fatalism? To be sure, I inherited that quality. But someday, I will knock the snow and ice off my boots and live in a place where snow is only seen on travel shows, and ice is what you put into a cocktail glass.

Of course, I will find something else to complain about. Maybe I’ll even miss the change of seasons.

Naw.

By: Rick Moran at 10:43 am

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