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End of summer

08/31/06 12:00AM By Madeleine M. Kunin
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(HOST) Commentator Madeleine Kunin is feeling nostalgic as we turn the page in our calendars from August to September.

(KUNIN) "The summer has gone by so fast."

That's the common lament heard when living in Vermont.

Throughout May and June we wait for the days to lengthen, for the temperature to rise high enough to assure us that it's safe to plant the petunias, geraniums, and tomatoes.

In July and August the sun took its time to set until well after dinner. The freedom of wearing shorts, t-shirts, and sandals was relished as we ran out the door without thinking, how many layers do I need today to keep me warm?

Living in the northeast, we tell ourselves it would be boring to have hot weather year round, one day very much like the other.

That's for sissies, for snowbirds, for old people.

And yet, as the temperature drops and the wind picks up, and we shuffle the first fallen leaves with our feet, nostalgia sets in.

Why can't summer last longer?

We did many of the things we wanted to do - sit at outdoor cafes, swim in the lake, be out in a boat, and listen to music under the stars - but not often enough.

Summer is a tease in Vermont. It beckons us, and then, just as we're getting used to it, it waves good-bye, leaving us thinking about next year.

Yes, there is drama in the change of seasons, and it's hard to get sympathy for the vicissitudes of a Vermont fall.

For many it's the favorite season-that snap in the air, the smell of fallen leaves, cider, apples, and extravagant splashes of color.

But fall means routine, work, school.And it means that winter, inevitably, is right behind.

Summer is more leisurely. You need no excuse to stop whatever it is you are doing, except to say, you're enjoying the sun or the shade on a beautiful day.

The universal exchange is, "Such a great day we're having."

And then, it's gone.

From one day, and sometimes, one hour, to the next.

Yes, the temperature may go up again for a day or two. We may even have a small heat wave to justify the air conditioner we bought in July.

But summer is almost over.

Yes, I'm grateful for those summer days we had - the blue sky, the touch of the soft air on my skin.

So why am I greedy for more?

And why do I regret that seasons change so fast? Is it just the temperature and the light that affect me, or is it the knowledge, that with each change of seasons, life itself moves on as inevitably as the movement of the earth around the sun.

Madeleine May Kunin is a former governor of Vermont.

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