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September's Gift

09/28/07 5:55PM
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(HOST) For commentator Frank Bryan, the end of September is a time for reflection, memories and just a touch of nostalgia.


(BRYAN) In a recent book I wrote: "There are times when there is no way to walk the hills of Peacham, Vermont and not weep with the beauty of it." Vermont Life honored me by using this quote in their Vermont Life Calendar.


Because they know there is a Peacham in the heart of every Vermonter.

In the heartland of my own dreams, I return to the town of Newbury.

In September.

When I was young.

And I am reminded of the opening verses of the theme song from "The Fantasticks."

"Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow

Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow...."

What one finds when one follows these haunting words depends, I suppose, on one's own heart.

Here is what I find.

In a Vermont September the difference between heaven and earth is made clear.

As for the earth, there is September's residual warmth, soaked up by the sod since early June. I hold it near and watch the clean air brush away the August heat. I look up from the deep valley grasses and see the hills explode in brilliant reds and yellows set against the green of fir and pine and canopied by the sharp blue of an ever colder autumn sky.

And I see a premonition of heaven.

For the dying of the great northern hard woods begins the coming of a death to be survived.

In its pastels of dying grasses and fading goldenrod, September anticipates the melancholy of perfect joy and caresses our most desperate longing - a glimpse of heaven's promise:

An instant - a love - so pure it will never end - an incandescent happiness that leaves hope and memory obsolete.

But here on earth September will end and leave us alone with our hopes and memories.

And so I return to the words of the song.

"Deep in December it's nice to remember,
The fires of September"

"Deep in December it's nice to remember,
Without a hurt the heart is hollow."

September's gift is that hurt: the sorrow of a truth:

This is as good as it gets. And it isn't good enough.

Still, September never abandons us completely. For it leaves a memory. And come the dark days of December I will dream again of Septembers past and feel the hope of Septembers to come.

And when I die, if given any options for eternity, I will say:

Send me back to Vermont. To Newbury. In September. When I was young. And mellow. And tender.

Send me back forever.

Frank Bryan is a writer and teaches political science at the University of Vermont.

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