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L'Abri Journals...ACGray
October, 2003

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The best of times is now.  What's left of Summer but a faded rose?  As for tomorrow, well, who knows?  So hold this moment fast, and live and love as hard as you know how.  And make this moment last, because the best of times is nowNow, not some forgotten yesterday.  Now, tomorrow is too far away.  So hold this moment fast, and live and love as hard as you know how.  And make this moment last, because the best of times is now.         

       Lyrics, Jerry Herman

 

Chalet LAbri, October 1, 2003

This year autumn arrived prematurely at Massanutten as Hurricane Isabel zoomed mercilessly through the Elkton gap of the Blue Ridge, uprooting a large tulip poplar tree and downing others, but sparing any damage to the chalet.  My neighbors and I are among the few Virginians who experienced no power outages.  In the hurricanes wake, however, the fierce winds defoliation raided the trees before they could oxidize into the brilliance of a late October demise.  Now, with fallen trees, I have an unimpeded view of the Blue Ridge Mountains on my eastern horizon, a net positive!  Thank you, dear Lord, for all adversity and favors!

            In the aftermath of Isabel came word that, for the first time ever in the history of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington cemetery, the sentries were granted permission to abandon their post as predictions that the hurricanes powerful winds were likely to endanger their lives. 

           "They told us that. But that's not what's going to happen," said Sgt. Christopher Holmes, standing vigil on overnight duty.  "That's never an option for us.  Holmes said he was willing to risk his life keeping watch over the tomb. "It's just considered to be the greatest honor to go out there and guard," Holmes said. "It's not only the Unknowns. It's a symbol that represents everyone who's fought and died for our country."  God Bless our dedicated service men and women.

            Yesterday a squadron of Canadian geese flying south in the familiar V formation once more reminded me that another year rapidly winds down.  Crickets finding access through my garage door now croak their death rattle in my basement.  Sunflowers in my garden are withered into espresso pods, the seeds from which will become nourishment for wintering chickadees and finches, and some to be buried in the good earth for an April resurrection.  

Now marches in the grand parade of October colors.  Edwin Way Teale in his book, Autumn Across America, taught me that trees produce chlorophyll continually during the summer.  Then as the chill of autumn comes, the production of chlorophyll is retarded, bringing with it a bleaching process in which chlorophyll is broken down into colorless compounds.  The green disappears and the pigments already there are no longer masked.  The yellows of autumn are produced by the subtraction of chlorophyll but the reds are produced by addition of anthocyanins, the cell-sap pigments from flaming scarlet to deepest purple   They are responsible for the color in stem and bud and leaf and flower throughout the vegetable kingdom, the reds in the root of beets and leaves of cabbage, the yellows in bananas, and the orange in pumpkins.  Scientists have experimented and groped to understand this phenomenon, but can explain only an infinitesimal bit of the marvelous process.  Here in the Shenandoah the Creator will color our world with all the flavors of the spectrum:  tangerines, cocoas, wines, plums, creams, and butters.  Mine is simply to sip and savor all this glory with every morsel of appreciation I can muster.