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Autumn is a schizophrenic season.

Spring is full of freshness and hope and youth and anticipation. Summer is fulfilled and warm and sultry and content. Winter is hard and bitter and unforgiving. But Autumn wears two faces.

Autumn is crumbling disintegration. Autumn is the onset of mortality. Autumn is the draining of the sap, the drawing back into the centre. Autumn is the descent into death.

Yet Autumn is gay and wears its colours boldly. Autumn is not satisfied by green, but seeks the fires of orange, red and gold to warm its face. Autumn celebrates the distancing of the rival sun.

As the autumn slips seamlessly from September into October, so our century moves inexorably towards the millennium.

And the turning of this century reminds of autumn. The gaiety is there alongside the promise of revival. Yet behind the appearance there is a tiredness, the ending of an era which has run its course.

For those of us who knew and loved the texture and shape of the passing seasons, the coming turning of the year is both sad and nervous. None of us likes to see our certainties begin to wither and decay. None of us feels comfortable when the foundations upon which we stand begin to tremble and to move. We can fight it, but we can never completely halt it.

For that is the motion of the seasons and of history alike; and it has ever been so.

And so has the inexorable return of spring, a new spring for a new age and a new generation. What we of our generation see as the fading light of the passing day is for our children the prelude to a new dawn.

In the schizophrenia of autumn we can see both the comfort of the past and the challenge of the future. To survive, we must embrace both.


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