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MARTHA SEZ: Say it ain’t so, Martha. The end of summer?

August 27, 2015
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

The first of September. Autumn is on its way.

Oh, yes, I know. Fall is everybody's favorite season. Now I am going to have to listen to that again.

Fall is beautiful in the North Country. I won't deny it. The quality of the light is different. It has been compared to that of Greece, where the clarity of the light is said to have inspired the ancients to build the cornerstones of civilization.

Some may take issue with this theory, because presumably the quality of light has remained the same in Greece from ancient times to the present, and yet Greece no longer leads the world. Those ancients did set an awfully high bar. Perhaps the Athenians, after inventing drama and epic poetry and sculpture and philosophy and architecture and democracy and the marathon-or was that Sparta?- decided to rest on their laurels. Now, of course, there is considerable smog in Greece, muddying the clarity of the light, and some might say, look what has happened to the Greek economy as a result.

We don't have smog here in the Adirondacks; we get the full effect of that autumn light. Locally, however, this effect is short-lived. While the clarity of light may inspire great philosophical concepts, it doesn't last long enough to nurture their implementation. Pretty soon winter comes, and the quality of light goes straight downhill. Also, it is just too cold to go around thinking lofty thoughts.

I know of one exception, a local artist who actually appreciates the winter light and makes use of it in his work. He paints exquisite winter scenes, capturing the subtle nuanced colors of the boreal landscape.

This is extremely rare, however. Most North Country artists just paint everything in shades of blue when they're doing snow. There, they say, that should do it.

Last winter, a man from Puerto Rico who was riding in the car with me kept marveling about the countryside.

"It is all black and gray, Martha!" he repeated, incredulously. And when I took the time to notice, yes, it was all black and gray, he was right. So depressing.

See, that is what I have against fall. I do agree that autumn is beautiful. During our brief peak leaf season, in a good year, the colors are gorgeous. That is not too strong a word. You owe it to yourself to go up to Norton Cemetery or to the landfill in Keene-World's Most Scenic Dump- during peak leaf and look out over the mountains and valleys. You will get a 360-degree view of the High Peaks in all their blazing glory. But we know-we do know-that it means the end of summer.

Winter is very long here. When I gaze out at the peak leaf panorama under skies of cloudless, crystal blue, I want to say, "Oh, yes, this is all very well, but you're not fooling me. I know winter is coming." And every year we wonder: Do we have the strength to undergo the Christmas season?

Yes, the fresh air and chilly nights are exhilarating. I will grant you that. But if I have to hear "You can always put more clothes on, but you can't keep taking them off" one more time-which I am sure I will-I am going to implode.

Right now, I am trying to learn to enjoy the moment instead of ruining it by worrying about the future. I don't have the hang of it yet, but I did have a wonderful time at a wedding last week, and I met someone who clearly has the knack of enjoying the moment.

The weather was perfect, and the bride and groom looked so happy. The reception was like a big picnic at a country club. It was good to see old friends. One man I didn't know. I was about to describe him as an old man, except it occurs to me he was probably my age or younger.

Someone nudged me. "Look what it says on his T-shirt," she said. " 'Looking Good.' "

"No," I said. "It says 'Lou King Good.' Oh."

"Nice shirt," I said.

The man grinned. "I got it free!" he boasted.

"I didn't even know this was going on!" he added, waving a bottle of beer in one hand and a sandwich in the other, clearly revelling in his good fortune. "I live near here."

I broke out laughing.

"I know a shortcut!" he said.

Have a good week.



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