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Liz Lerner

It is just November. A few crickets still “sing” their nightly serenades. What they are chirping about, drawing wing over wing, is impulse and desire, although in a mechanistic, formalized mode, much like the peepers’ chorus in the raw months of spring. You have to give them credit — the little guys give it everything they’ve got: it is, after all, the performance of a lifetime, and a final act. But to me their message goes beyond blind desire to purpose. They sing — or rather play — “push on, push on: even in the face of impending frost, push on."

One season does bleed into the next, as this fall has had occasional summer days — the warmest fall on record. Warm and sultry days do not belie the burgundy leaves of the Tupelos, though, and in the wetlands the Red Maples continue to earn their name.

Living is an incremental process, we go breath by breath, minute by minute, day by day- season by season. People dance with the seasons, the way children play tag with the waves. Some see how late into November they can take their last swim or how long they can persevere before turning the heat on in the house. I see how late in that month I can still use the outdoor shower. Unless it is raining, I run out into the crisp air each morning, sometimes at daybreak, and huddle under the warm spray of water, enjoying the overhead canopy of maples and oaks and the sky above. But increasingly the lattice work of the branches is revealed and I am finding fallen leaves on the deck of the shower and in the soap dish — they are slippery underfoot. I count them and think for a moment that I could count, remove, and record them every morning and thereby measure autumn’s progress — but I know I won’t.

We each live in a sliver of time, just dozens of each season experienced in a single lifetime. Our life spans are laughable in comparison with our neighbors, the oaks. We are not so unlike the crickets, although some of us are quieter. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end: individuals, species, civilizations, continents — even our planet: the end is inevitable. It is how we deal with it that makes the difference. It is simply glorious to be alive. By being part of the world we confirm it. It is the moment that matters, and it is not to be wasted — not in any season. I will enjoy my morning showers; after all, how many chirps have I left?