Think About It

Spring and Fall in Pennsylvania

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | September 04, 2010

"Autumn is the second spring when every leaf is a flower."
Albert Camus

If you were to visit our home you would find on the coffee table in our sitting room a book titled The Four Seasons of Chester County. Evie and I love to look at the stunning photographs where, in vivid form, the variety of the seasons of our county are illustrated. 

Living in Chester County, however, is even better than reading about it. Four seasons bring a charm all their own to those who experience them. Each one has its own personality. Each one sings its own tune. Each one paints its own colors. 

Evie gave me the idea for this column when she began reflecting one day on the contrast between spring and fall here in Pennsylvania. The more I thought about it, the more thoughts came to my mind. 

Horticulture is a great place to begin. All of us are aware of the opposite stages plants go through between spring and fall. In the spring we notice the little green buds of the hydrangea and butterfly bushes and lilacs. The green leaves of the tulips, crocuses, alliums, peonies, and even trees and bushes press through the melting snows of March. We see all of those things and we know spring is on the way. 

Everything is different in the fall. The early spring flowers are long gone. The countryside is splattered with colored leaves and mums and pumpkins. Dried corn stalks stand in the fields and full richly blooming marigolds show off their amazing colors in our yards. 

In the fall, the birds of spring such as robins and songbirds and hummingbirds give way to the honking of geese as they fly south in their familiar formations. Only our memories and our photographs retain the images of the Monarch butterflies now well on their way to their winter vacations in Mexico. 

The world of recreation changes from spring to fall, too. As soon as the temperature warms up in the spring, children and adults reach for bats and balls and gloves. Families talk about going down to the shore or up to the mountains. Everyone's schedule moves into a change-of-pace mode with relaxation and renewal significant priorities. 

In the fall, our baseballs are replaced with footballs, basketballs, and soccer balls. The crisp fall air reminds everyone we are getting back into the routines: back to school; back to work; back home. 

When fall comes, we put away our well-used garden tools. In the spring we cleaned out the garage for the summer but in the fall we must clean it out yet again as we get ready for the winter. The first hard frost of the fall encourages us to clean out and put away the clay pots which a few months earlier we filled with fresh new annuals. We must dig up the dahlia bulbs and the elephant ear roots.

We could go on and on describing the contrast between spring and fall. I still have far too many images from my days on the farm to our years in Minnesota and now here in Pennsylvania than I could ever capture in this short column. It is like the whole canvas shifts. 

When I think of spring I think of new beginnings, getting outside, Memorial Day weekend, travel, opening up the windows, sitting on the porch, and the end of school. 

When I think of fall I think of the approaching end of the year, going inside, Labor Day weekend, staying at home, closing up the windows, closing down the porch, and the beginning of school. 

Every spring I can't wait for it all to begin. Every fall I can't wait for it all to change. Whether I am starting up in the spring or hunkering down in the fall, each year as each season comes along I love what each one represents in the cycle of life. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu
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