September Song

Labor Day weekend is here, and while a lot of folks are moping about summer coming to an end, you won’t hear any griping from me. Just as the advancing weeks of May and June fill me with a gathering dread each year as the heat and fetor approach, when I get to the end of August I begin to realize — with woozy incomprehension at first, but then with a growing sense of elation — that deliverance is at hand, and that against all the odds I have staggered and sweated through another summer in New York without taking my own life (or anyone else’s).

Now come the most beautiful months of all: September and October, when a reliable succession of Canadian fronts will drape, in graceful catenary arcs, across the weather maps in the Times, sweeping the skies clear of summer’s viscous murk. The air will sparkle and invigorate, the gentle harvest sun will bathe the countryside in its golden radiance, and our mighty city will rouse itself from its sweltering torpor and get about its important business once again. The days, clear and mild at first, will turn cool, then crisp, and the leaves will flare again with impossible, incandescent beauty.

Above all, though, as I’ve said before, what I love the most about the fall is the gathering rush of change, as the massive pendulum of the seasons, having rested briefly in the summer’s heat, turns and begins its ancient transit once again, taking us all along for the ride.

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