By Joe Rector

Right now, Mother Nature is on display without any make-up. Her flowers hold only a couple of blooms, and most of them are withered and ready to be cut back. Once green grass now is tinged with shades of brown. Leaves are showering yards, and homeowners dread the hours to come when they go to war with those leaves. They rake them toward piles, only to have fall winds scatter the brown, dried things back to their original resting places.

I’ve wanted a new lawnmower for a couple of years. The one I had was good enough, but a 42” deck is no match for a couple of acres of maple, oak and sweetgum trees. The other day a company made an offer for a mower with a 54” deck. We didn’t want to spend the money, but the time had come to make the move and cut my workload. My disappointment peaked when I realized that the grass is finished growing for this year.

Before long, the temperatures will drop, and coats will be required. I hate having to put on layers of clothes just to work outside. What’s worse is having an early golf tee time but having to wait for hours until the frost disappears from greens. Hands and lips dry and crack from the cold; folks apply layers of chapstick and lotion.

Still, I have to admit that fall has its finer things. One is the clear blue morning sky on Saturdays that announces, “It’s Big Orange Time.” On a chilly evening, that cloudless sky seems to reveal even more stars than the summer, and a harvest moon is something special to behold. Families circle fire pits armed with utensils needed to cook a hotdog or burn a marshmallow to top a smore. Braver souls take hikes in the mountains and set up tents to sleep through the cold nights.

This year, we might be able to gather with friends and families over pots of soup or chili. We can reacquaint ourselves with those folks who we’ve missed since the beginning of Covid-19. Perhaps Thanksgiving can be shared with extended family. Just being around people feels strange and awkward after months of social distancing. Lucky for us, vaccines created to fight the illness gave us peace of mind.

I worry this year about another problem this fall. Americans don’t seem to be able to get along with each other. I’ve never seen the hatred that exists today. Not even during the ’60s and ’70s did factions go after each other with such venom.

The future of our country is somehow in doubt right now. Who’d ever have believed that “the guiding light” would be in such trouble? I don’t hate anyone. No, I don’t agree with some of the beliefs and statements of others, but I can still get along with them. I defend their rights to express viewpoints, but no one in any group has the right to destroy or attack people who are different. I don’t care what party, religion, or business they follow.

During the colder, darker seasons that are coming, I’ll join you in thinking about the good things that come during these months. I’ll work to be a bit kinder to all, and I’ll listen to those with whom I might disagree. If we don’t stop the madness that rules right now, none of us will enjoy the months of rebirth and warmth that always follow the cold. Let’s don’t allow fall to be the main word that expresses the fate of the U.S.