Saturday, February 18, 2017

No, I'm not dead. Not even mostly dead.

Although there are days ...

I have been asked quite a number of times over the last  several weeks why nothing has appeared on this virtual page, so I decided to answer those who have asked, as well as those who have not and, more widely I'm sure, those who couldn't care less.

I haven't felt like it.

There it is. We all say that, probably more often than we realize. "I don't feel like it," you're told, or you say, and it almost has one of those poke-your-finger-in-someones-eye rings to it. We say it about food, places, things to do, oh, and people.

Sometimes it's a legitimate response if, say, you're not feeling well, or if you are feeling anything, you're feeling blue. In my own case, when I say "I don't feel like it", what I'm really looking for is for someone to make up my mind for me, because I simply don't have the mental energy or enthusiasm to make even the smallest decision.

So, for some time now, I haven't felt like writing anything of substance. Not that I haven't tried. There are literally two score drafts on the computer and on paper that have been balled up and tossed aside. Song lyrics, poems and the beginning of a novel -- in the trash.

It's time, I suppose, for my week of feeling intense frustration and self-dissatisfaction. Not about any one thing in particular, well, maybe. But mostly the whole catalogue, indexed in the mind by topic and subheadings.

There's nothing wrong with frustration, by the way. I try and use it, along with anger, as a propulsive force which makes me more determined than ever to grab the next brass ring, or whatever metaphor you prefer. As my dear Shakespeare wrote in Troilus and Cressida, "Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing."

The day winds down with many tasks accomplished and far too many yet to do, so I will read and eventually fall into dreaming. An exceptionally beautiful bit of music by Mahler, from his fifth symphony, has come to me as I wrote this, so perhaps you'll enjoy this Adagietto, too, played here by the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan's direction.

So now I have written something.


Monday, December 12, 2016

A thought or two and then Part 3 ...

Before posting this third and final installment of the Christmas story, it occurred to me that it might seem a little dark and jaded to you. It was written some years back and, at the time, reflected the glass through which I viewed the holiday. As a child, it was all fairly simple - a deep study of the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog, pointing to the TV commercials and hoping for as many packages as possible.

Time and experience make the holiday for most more of a giving than taking experience, I suppose, and it's certainly more fun for me to give than get. In fairness, I should point out that I follow the 'one for you, two for me' maxim, so I still get plenty, and I have had complaints that I'm tough to shop for (lame), which actually means the shopper isn't particularly creative. It really is the thought that counts ... 

Now, what many of us wish for is not so much a thing as it is an idea, perhaps a goal, maybe even someone. Of course, those things can't be bought, only acquired through a currency more valuable than money and, in the end, that's what the whole damn thing is really about, yes?

I hope you all have a happy, warm and loving Christmas.


“So, this is the last stop, pal. You having fun yet?” Santa purred as we were once again airborne. “Thanks, Santee, for bringing me back to that time with my father and brother,” I said. “You’re welcome,” Santa said. “It’s important to recall more good things than bad, don’t you think?” “I guess so,” I responded. “My father was the glue that held everybody together. When he went, a fair amount of me went with him.” We were quiet for a time and I found myself growing angry until I finally burst out, “Why the hell are you doing this Dickens thing anyway?! I keep Christmas in my heart and all that. Whaddy’a gonna’ do now? Point a bony finger at my tombstone? Well, I’ll save you the trouble, I’m being cremated!” Santa laughed long and hard. “Now THAT’s what I like about you! You find a joke in everything.” I smiled inwardly, then brightly. “Keep fighting, right?” Santa said. We both laughed.

When we settled to the ground I saw we were next to an excavation pit, surrounded by scaffold and fencing. It looked familiar and as I slowly tuned my body around, a most familiar site stood out. Before I could speak, Santa read my mind. “Just look about twenty yards to your left.” “For what?” I said. “Just watch. Patience really never has been your strong suit, has it?” “For some things, Santee. For some things,” I mumbled.

I saw a group of uniformed men climbing from the pit, carrying what looked like a long sack of potatoes. My eyes were able to make out a few of the men, faces drawn and tearful. As my eyes looked downward, a few fire helmets made themselves obvious, red and yellow with familiar gold numbers embossed on the front. “Do you know what this is?” Santa said. “I think I do,” I answered. Silently, I watched the procession from the depths. “Who are these men?” I asked, knowing full well what they were, just not who. “The fellow in the front holding the tip of the bag is Battalion Chief Joe Pfeifer, of Engine Company 33 in Manhattan,” Santa said. At that moment, Santa’s face morphed into that of Joe Pfeifer. I gaped as he continued. “We carried him through a field of twisted steel and metal and then up that dirt hill. When we found him, it was over five months after the attack.” “Found who?” I asked. Pfeifer was silent for a moment, and then looked at me straight into the eyes, a wry smile on his face. “My little brother, Kevin.” “I’m sorry,” I stammered. “Kevin was one of the first firefighters at the World Trade Center after that jet hit the north tower,” Joe said. “I was setting up an operations base in the area when I met up with Kevin. He shouted over the racket, Jesus, it was loud, that he was going inside to lead our guys out the only open passage. He got most of them, too.” After what seemed an eternity I grabbed Joe by both shoulders. “Thank you,” I said. “Thank all of you.” What was Joe Pfeifer’s face slowly transformed itself back into that of Santa. The warmest smile I have ever seen spread across his face as he said to me, simply, calmly, “You’re welcome. After all, it’s Christmas.”

We found ourselves at the funeral, in St. Margaret Roman Catholic Church. I heard Joe say in his eulogy that as he rode the ambulance with his brother's body, "I remembered all the good times we had together. And that feeling of horror passed to a feeling of peace." When mayor Bloomberg stood to speak, he mentioned the paper snowflakes and snowmen taped to the windows above the church by students at St. Margaret School. "The children are why Kevin was here. We all live because Kevin and the 11,000 people that he worked with go into danger to protect the rest of us." Turning to Kevin's parents, Helen and Bill, the mayor said, "Thank you for giving us Kevin. We exist because of him."

“The NYFD lost 343 men that day, son,” Santa intoned. “Ten from company 33. Another of those fellows, John Tierney, had his send off yesterday in Staten Island.” A long pause as I drew my sleeve across my eyes and shivered in what was now a very cold air. “Let’s go, pally,” Santa said. “I think you’re getting the idea.”

The next thing I knew we were by a campfire in a place I knew well. Indian Lake in the Adirondacks. “Coffee?” Santa said. “Why are we here?” I asked. “It’s morning. Actually about 10 a.m. if you must know. You want it black this time?” “Uh-huh,” I said. The old man poured the coffee, handed me my cup and sat beside me. Putting his hand gently on my knee he said, “I brought you here because you love this place. Because in this quiet, with this blanket of snow and faint sounds of deer and perhaps a bear or two, you’ll understand and internalize what I’m about to tell you.” “OK,” I replied.

“You’ve been told all your life that Christmas is about giving and I’ve told you the last few hours that it’s really about giving up. Sometimes it’s about giving up money, or possessions, or once in a while your life like Kevin Pfeifer did that day in 2001 and Somebody else did a couple of thousand years ago.” Santa stared at me intently. “You came to me last night to tell me that you believe in me and what I stand for. I’m telling you now that what will keep the spirit of Christmas alive in you and others is that you believe it’s worth it to give up some and sometimes all of yourself for somebody else.” As I looked off into the nest of pines and, as the good nuns used to tell us, examined my own mind, Santa continued. “This story that you’re writing about this experience"- I interrupted him. “I’m not writing any story!” I said. “You will,” he replied. “You can’t help yourself.”  “If you say so," I said. “I do say so," he retorted. “And I’ll tell you something else. One more thing that will make it all worthwhile for you and others. Your reward for what you do will be paltry. You’ll be thought a romantic. A fool who lets his emotions rule his life. People you care for deeply will take you for granted and use you as they see fit.You will give in huge disproportion to what you receive and you will have to regularly fight the urge to be bitter.  Don’t do it, don’t give in to it. What I mean to say is that there is a payoff for the single minded romantic notion that the good guys win. Like your father used to tell you, nice guys don’t finish first, but they don’t finish last either. You’re doing fine.” “Thanks, Santee,” I said. “Do we have time to maybe jump to another favorite place, like St. Croix?” “Nope,” he answered. “Time to go.”

Just like that, I was back in Macy’s, next to the toaster ovens. As I started out onto 34th a swizzle stick fell from my pocket. I bent to pick it up and as I raised my head I saw Santa, or a fellow who looked remarkably like him, standing before me, smiling benevolently. He bent down and cocked his head to my ear. “By the way," he whispered to me, “I haven’t forgotten what’s been on your Christmas list for years.” I smiled. “Don’t despair, it is always possible.”

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Merry Christmas Redux, Part 2

Before I knew it we had stopped. “First stop,” Santa announced. “Where are we?” I questioned. “Take a walk around and you’ll see,” Santa commanded. Commanded was the right word, because it was clear to me we were in a war zone. I felt the cold at this point and on either side of me were miles of barren fields, horse carcasses and shredded tents atop trenches. It looked much as Verdun or Flanders may have in 1917. Not too far from me I saw a group of men huddled behind an embankment, their uniforms barely more than rags, long rifles leaned on as canes and in their midst a flicker of a fire. The air smelled rancid and far off, I thought I saw stars and a few stripes. I knew immediately. “Valley Forge,” I said aloud. “Smart lad,” Santa said. “Of course, it could just as easily be France, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq. Does it really matter? Take a look around and you’ll see why this Christmas at Valley Forge is important for you to see firsthand.” 

Santa gestured broadly across the field and said, “Do you see that fellow about a hundred yards to your left? Next to what remains of that tent?” “Oh, yes,” I said, “I see it. He looks pretty beaten down.” Santa leaned over and touched me on the shoulder. “That’s your multiple great Uncle Henry Sprague. With the Long Island first regiment.” My jaw dropped as Santa went on. “Your mother told you about him once, didn’t she? How he had come down from Canada only a few years before the revolution, joined the cause just before the battle of Long Island and ended up a Captain in the Continental Army, right?” “Right,” I stammered. “You know Washington lost nearly half the army just before and during Valley Forge from desertion and lack of re-enlistment. But not your uncle. He stuck it out and gave up his Christmases until 1783.” “I had forgotten about him,” I said slowly. “Well, don’t forget anymore,” Santa said, somewhat sternly. “Let’s go.” 

As we winged across the sky I said, almost casually, “Santee, much as I was thrilled to see my uncle, what was the reason you showed me Valley Forge?” “Well,” Santa replied, “you know already, I hope, that Christmas isn’t about asking for things, it’s about giving things.” “Yes,” I said, “I do prefer the giving to the getting. But all of us long suffering, people pleasing martyrs do.” Santa threw back his head and laughed, rocking the sleigh. “At least you know yourself, son,” he finally said. “More often than not the joy of giving is missed. You see, those boys at Valley Forge stayed there not because they wanted to shoot Brits and Hessians. Well, all right, maybe a few did. They stayed and endured that misery because of the joy they felt in giving to their new country. Sacrifice is never a valuable experience in the moment. Keep that in mind.” As I pondered that life lesson, we arrived at what, I was sure, would be the next one. “Here we are!” Santa bellowed. “Get out of my car.”

I was astonished to see myself. Myself as a boy of 8, seated next to my older brother in the back seat of my father’s then car. A huge, blue Dodge Monaco, with a white vinyl roof. In retrospect it was without question one of the ugliest things ever manufactured, but when you’re an 8 year old boy large blue mechanized things are always cool. We had been Christmas shopping that night in Schenectady, NY. Anyone nowadays who knows anything about Schenectady thinks of it as a dump, but in 1970 people actually worked there and liked the place. My absolute favorite store in Schenectady was Dwayne’s Toyland. Dwayne’s Toyland was most certainly NOT your average toy store. First, it occupied what could only be described as an enormous, jerry-rigged army barracks. It had two floors, and the one that we loved was downstairs. Down some very rickety, wooden slat stairs. The stairs led you into a basement where you could see the water pipes above your head and, stacked up on wooden pallets were games, trucks, cars, models (remember when kids actually took the time to build and paint models?) and building materials such as Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and kits to create your own masonry structure and ruin your mother’s kitchen floor.

As my brother and I wound our way around selecting a few things (always large and loud), my father picked up a few things of his own and had them brought upstairs by a clerk (yeah, a clerk. Speaking English. Someone who actually helps you in the store and who knows where things are). Anyway, we finished exploring the wonders of Dwayne’s and were driving back home when my father said, “I’m going to make a couple of stops, ok?” “Sure,” we replied. And for the next half hour my dad stopped at three houses, got out of the car, opened the trunk and carried something to the door. When the door opened he spoke briefly to the person answering the door, handed them the bundle he carried and got back into the car. After the last stop my older brother finally asked, “Who were those people we stopped to see, dad?” My father was silent for a minute and then simply said, “Oh, they’re some clients of mine that didn’t have anything to give their kids for Christmas, so I got them something.” That was all. Not another word was said, but I noticed my brother tearing up a bit and I confess it was a great example for me.

“Your old man was all right, you know,” Santa said, interrupting my reverie. “Indeed he was, Santee,” I replied. “He did stuff like that all the time.” Santa looked back at me as we walked toward the sleigh and said, “You mean it was just the way he was wired, right?” “Pretty much,” I responded. “Uh huh,” Santa grunted. “Now let’s make one more stop before it gets to be morning, or this story you’re writing gets too long, I’m not sure which.”

Friday, December 9, 2016

Merry Christmas Redux, Part 1

I have been asked to re-post something I composed a few years ago and, frankly, haven't been able to replicate since. You'll see it in three parts over the next three days and as you read it, I hope it brings to mind nice things, not just about Christmas, but anything and anyone you hold dear.


It was 8:45 when I got there and I wasn’t sure if I’d have time enough to do it. See Santa, I mean. In Macy’s. Yeah, the one on 34th Street. From the movie (and not that lousy remake for TV, either). It was chilly, too, given that it was Santa’s first day for this year’s New York gig. Underdressed for the weather but determined to see Santa, I hustled up the escalator (no elevators for me, bub) to the fourth floor where the old man was situated.

Sure enough, he was there and since it was his first day there weren’t many kids around, or anybody for that matter. So I ambled up to him and said, as earnestly as I could, “Santa, can I have a few minutes of your time?” He stared at me from behind the granny glasses perched on his red nose and said, “What are you, kidding me?!” I blanched. “You’ve got to be 40 years old at least!” “Fifty-one, actually, Santa,” I muttered, “and I still believe in ….” my voice trailed off. Santa glared at me for a moment. “Damn!” he finally said, “I haven’t seen one of you in a long time.” Another stare. “I get out of here at 9, wanna have a drink?” “I always want to have a drink, Santa,” I replied, barely concealing my delight over this unexpected good fortune. “Great, “he said. “Meet me at the main terminal bar in Grand Central at 9:15. Sharp.” And, with a wave of his hand (no sashes available) I was off to Grand Central.

The main terminal of Grand Central station is a wonder at any time, but during Christmas it is glorious. The ceiling is already covered with the constellations ever so softly lit and, with the addition of all the Christmas lights, wreaths and ornaments, that ceiling becomes a canvas of urban beauty and imagination. Since the bar is close by, the images are always around you from peripheral points. Santa knows his spots. No sooner had I sat down than he appeared. Just like that. “So, great spot, huh?” I nodded in agreement. Santa looked at me again intently and smiled. “Let’s get a drink and you’re buying cause Santa doesn’t carry money.” “Not even gas money?” I asked. “Very funny,” he said. The drinks were ordered, arrived in short order and, after what seemed to be an interminably long sip, Santa looked at me again. “So, let me ask YOU something?” I nodded. “What in the world would make a 51 year old man want to talk with Santa?” Before I could answer, he blurted out, “and why do you STILL believe in me? I’ve been thinking of hanging this up and letting the deputies handle the admin stuff anyway.”

“Well, Santa,” I began, and he interrupted me again. “Listen, I know you call me Santee Clauz and that’s what you say to all the kids, too, so go ahead and call me that.” I grinned and said, “OK, Santee, here’s the story. I’ve got a lot to ask of you this year; a lot more than usual, so I thought I’d make a trip to see you, and New York was the closest and best spot I knew of.” Santa fingered his rocks glass and replied, “You don’t ask for much to begin with, at least not for yourself. So, what do you want?” “How long have you got?” I questioned. “All night, son. Things don’t get hopping till around December 15th. And when this joint closes we can always go the Waldorf, I got a suite there.”

“All right, how about I get myself out of the way first?” I asked. “Sure, sure, whatever you say … hey! How about some peanuts over here?” Santa shouted. A waitress scurried over with a heaping bowl of nuts. “Nuts!” Santa laughed, “This world’s full of them.” I got myself reorganized and continued. “You know I’d like a little whiskey and maybe a couple of good books and a nice sweater or two. That’s it, really.” “How about cigars this year?” Santa queried. “Naw, I quit smoking,” I said. “Remember I told you I wanted to live to be 100?” “Oh, yeah, that’s right,” Santa said. “You know age is just a state of mind …. and gravity.” “Got you, Santee, thanks.” “Sorry,” he said, “keep going.”

“So, what I’m looking for is stuff for the people I love and a couple of things I can’t really explain, except to say that they aren’t things but something else; something I don’t know how to define.” Santee Clauz gave me a once over and said, “You’re getting a little psychiatric, if you know what I mean. Do you know how hard it is for me to just get around to the toys? Hell, half the time the elves are off boozing it up or hitting on each other … a repulsive site, really. And anyway, I’m having a harder and harder time with the mentality gifts.” “What do you mean,” I asked. “Pal,” he answered, “half the world doesn’t believe in me and tell their kids I’m just a creation of Rankin and Bass, and the other half of the world tells their kids that I represent all that’s materialistic and take away from the true spirit of Christmas. Hell, I was there when Jesus was born! I know what a big deal it is. This stuff about having Christmas in your heart all the time has to come from all of you. I just don’t have the horse, er, reindeer power to do it.” I began to look down into my drink and Santa added, “But go ahead and tell me. I can always do my best, which is usually pretty good. And anyway, you’ve been a very good boy this year.” 

“Well, Santee, “I said, “it’s good to know you think I’m pulling my weight.” Santa laughed and replied, “It’s not about pulling weight, kid. It’s about not denying to yourself or anyone else what happens on this planet and how you can affect it and others.” Now it was my turn to give Santa a penetrating look. “Hey, Santa,” I said, “You’re not going to give me the Christmas Carol treatment, are you?” “No,” the old man replied, “but a variation on the theme. Wanna’ take a ride?”

The first thing I noticed about Santa’s sleigh was its simplicity. No high tech lights, ultra shiny bronze ornaments or spotless stainless steel sleigh rails. It’s Radio Flyer red, of course, with gold trim and plain iron rails. The bench seat isn’t leather, more like a buffalo hide that’s more than a little worn. The one accommodation to modern times is the GPS unit mounted on the dash. “Even I gotta’ have one of these,” Santa confided to me. “A couple of years ago Rudolph had a head cold and we wound up in Manitoba instead of Minnesota.” The second thing I noticed was that this sleigh and reindeer were situated smack dab in front of Grand Central and nobody noticed at all. “Are we invisible?” I wondered aloud. “Nope,” Santa said, “but just like the sleigh bells – you have to believe first to hear and see.”

We rose from the street and into the air effortlessly, without noise or hoof beats, like the ascension of a hot air balloon. Once we got to what seemed like an Everest like elevation, we rode the air as a surfer does a wave. I felt no cold and heard nothing but my own thoughts … so did Santa.

“You’re wondering where we’re going, huh?” he asked. “Well, sure,” I said. “I’m surprised I didn’t see blurriness before my eyes, like you see on the TV when you’re headed into a dream or flashback.” “I don’t pull stunts like that, buddy,” Santa said. “God equipped me with the space-time continuum gift. Works wonders when you’re short on time and you forgot your house keys.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When the moon hits your eye ....

Those of you that can see the "Supermoon" lighting the sky have been, I hope, just as awed as me to just gaze at the thing hanging there. Talk about putting things in perpsective, that lifeless rock has a power like no other and it's not just the power to affect the tides. The moon has been something to ga-ga over for as long as hearts have been beating.

I sat on the stairs last night (sick as I was) and gaped, trying to see as much as I could with my lasered vision (so glad I had that surgery). I think I have the answer to two burning questions inspired by the moon, too:

  • The moon is made of cheese - aged New York sharp cheddar.
  • I'm sure wishing on the moon works.
The moon has inspired some lovely music over the centuries and so, in between history lectures, here's a few charming tunes to enjoy, all about the moon and its' powers.

From 1935, written by Ralph Rainger and the great American wit Dorothy Parker, is a song made famous by Ruth Etting and later Bing. This recording comes from the Master, with a terrific chart by Nelson Riddle (as do the next two songs, too), "I Wished on the Moon".

In 1942, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke wrote the songs for one of the Best Crosby-Hope Road pictures, "Road to Morocco". The movie is a riot and the songs are all great, with Crosby, as usual, wooing Dorothy Lamour with his throat. Love this tune, "Moonlight Becomes You". 

A different kind of moon tune came from Van Heusen and Burke in this last example, about the moon creating a problem and heartache. I don't know if the moon will make you loony, but love certainly can ... "Oh, You Crazy Moon".

Two French composers, one of whom was truly great, also were inspired by the moon to write something beautiful. Gabriel Faure', in 1869, wrote "Clair de lune" as part of a song cycle and it is heard here from the superb soprano Barbara Hendricks.

In 1905, the great Claude Debussy published the "Suite Bergamasque", for piano and one of those pieces is his "Clair de lune". It has become the most loved of the suite's parts and is played here very well by Philippe Entremont.

Debussy's moon was so popular that it has been orchestrated by several arrangers. My favorite comes from William Smith, long the associate conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who play it here under it's finest maestro, Eugene Ormandy.

So, gaze at the moon while you can and let your mind wander around it's surface, looking into that one crater that holds the answers to your questions and fulfillment of your dreams.  


Friday, November 11, 2016

A little thought before the big thoughts ...

On this Veterans' Day, and following up on this election, I'm reminded and honored that my grandfathers, father and great uncles all fought, over a third of the last century, to save Europeans from themselves. 

I have many readers of this blog from all over Europe, particularly England, France, Germany and Russia, and certain of them know all too well the sacrifices Americans have made, quite literally with their lives, to confront and destroy evil, rebuild and support the European continent and, for the most part, view the "old world" with an open hand, not a closed fist.  

So, for those of you in Europe that can't understand how Americans could elect Donald Trump, may I suggest you ask yourselves how you could abandon your national identities, accept mediocrity in your leadership and abandon any sense of pride in what once was Western Civilization. Is it any wonder why most of us had families with the foresight to leave Europe and come to America, legally, two centuries ago? 

America is still a youngster of a country, yes, but it is also the only nation of its' type to have ever been conceived. Consider that for just a moment. England gave us the Magna Carta, Napoleon his brilliant and practical civil code and Bismark taught many leaders how to balance power and influence with diplomacy, but it is America's uniqueness; yes, its' exceptionalism, that has made it mankind's greatest experiment.

Our recent elections prove, once again, that what the founders wrought was a wonder of invention and prescience (look it up). This nation elects popularly, but not without a check, just as there was ( yes, w-a-s) a series of checks written into the United States Constitution, a document rarely, if ever, understood by Europeans and blithely mangled and discarded by the recipients of its genius. Believe me, my European friends, we all have a great deal more to worry over than Donald Trump, who will find himself eventually regulated by what is left of America's constitutional republic. 

America will continue to be the nation everyone wants to emulate, while being resented mightily for its success and munificence. So, before I write a longer history lesson next week, consider the above and reflect on whether or not casting stones from across the pond is a good use of time.         


Friday, November 4, 2016

Autumn, at last ...

Much as I complain about cold weather and the dread snow, that purgatory known as Autumn is a favorite time for me, as it may be for you.

It's not just the shift in temperature or the shift in color and pigments in the sky, trees and earth, it is, too, the change in mood and feeling. Sometimes these changes are like the wind, which sometimes move so fast it can't be seen. When the wind is not green, but lavender or rust and one isn't sure whether to embrace the wind or shelter from it.

Shakespeare, naturally, had something to say about it, in his Sonnet 47 ...

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

The irony of autumn is that while it is the harbinger of cold, frost and the end of things, it is also invigorating, bursting with the last appearance of beauty before the freeze and, quite possibly, a respite from melancholy and things missed and ached for. There is beauty in every season, usually right before us..