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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 10 8 21 – The Autumnal Turn

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

Autumn is upon us! The Autumnal Equinox was actually on September 22nd at 3:21 PM eastern time. At that moment, night and day where almost exactly equal. It is the moment the day begins to get shorter. The seasonal change is due to our planet’s tilt on its axis, and a time when the Northern and Southern Hemispheres essentially trade places. It actually has been for a few weeks now, but the feel of fall is certainly in the air now. Our days get shorter, our nights get longer, at least for those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere. We move towards the longest night of the year in late December. We are in the home stretch of 2021.

Not sure why the Fall is special to me, but it has always stood out as such. The air turning crisp and the leaves become the colors of flames. It is prep time for winter. The idea of being inside reading as the world is in its dark phase as we sit by a crackling fire in our hearth warms my heart. I have a stack of books in preparation for the dark phase of the year. Food wise, nothing can compare with what Julie has in her fall food arsenal. Julie goes in full cooking mode and the hearty soups and stews come back. Stews, paprikash, homemade ramen and meat pies. Some of my most cherished life memories are being outside on a crisp fall day when the world is painted in reds, oranges, and yellows. The last hurrah of life as the earth prepares to move into hibernation.

Fall has a different smell and a different sound. The sky changes, clouds become more substantive and seem closer to the ground than the wispy puffs of high summer. The world grows closer into us. It is a season of change and preparation. Dead leaves skitter about on the ground or even at times travel across the earth in little whirling dervishes. Animals gather and store food for the coming winter. Such times remind me of the preciousness of the moment we have now as we prepare for what comes next.

One family memory that sticks out for me this Fall season. Our extended family would get together at my paternal grandparent’s house in Emmaus PA. They had a modest house next to the old Central School Building on Fourth Street where there are now apartments for older adults. Our parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents would hang out in the kitchen. The kids would be out in the garage with apple cider. We ate hot dogs and burgers, and we would anxiously await the Emmaus Halloween Parade. I recall as a kid scrambling to pick up candy corn tossed from the parade floats on to the ground and then eating it. It tasted like corn syrup and wax (I think it is actually corn syrup and wax). Simpler times where kids would eat stuff that was tossed by adults into the streets without a second thought. We survived such things, perhaps those germ encrusted candy corn “treats” made us stronger in some way. Even if they didn’t, I am glad to have grown up in an era where simpler things and even some dirt was part of childhood. Less sanitized for certain. They were good times.

One Fall experience this week was seeing Buttermilk Falls in New Florence Pa. I visited it after a

meeting at FAVOR Western PA the night before. The Fall color was starting to pop in the early morning sunshine. As I walked down the trail, I learned that the property once belonged to Fred Rogers family. He played there as a child and visited throughout his life. The waterfalls influenced his TV production work. I reflected on Mr. Rogers as a child seeing the waterfalls through child’s eyes on a crisp fall morning. He kept that child’s eye with him his whole life and tried to get children to think of our world as special and that we are all connected.

Fred Rogers was well aware of the dangers of media and its potential benefits, as well as the importance of drawing people together. As a kid, I was not appreciative of his work, but as an adult, I have come to some of the very same conclusions he did about media and community. We must use media to accentuate positives for our common welfare. We are all in the same neighborhood of earth. Grateful to have had a chance to visit a place this week that so influenced the late Fred Rogers. Finding it was a happy accident of life on the road.

In human history, the Fall was the celebration of the bounty and the preparation for getting through the dark days of winter. Reflection is natural as the winter months, specifically January is the month with the highest mortality rate. It may seem a bit morbid for a gratitude post, but the very fact of the matter is, if you are reading this, you are alive and not one of us has that guarantee for tomorrow. That is a matter of gratitude in my book.

Grateful to be here in this season of color and preparation. Grateful for shelter and food and warmth in our hearth. Grateful to walk through Mr. Rogers woods on a fall morning. We are seeing the end of another year ahead. The season of reflection is upon us. Grateful for the opportunity to do such reflection, to prepare for the end of the year, and with any luck, usher in 2022.

What are you grateful for today?

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