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September 22, 1998

Once again the autumn season stands trembling on the threshold, ready to spread its glorious colors and refreshing breath across the vista of our lives. Many hold that autumn is the best time of year because it brings relief from allergies and the stifling heat of July and August. Just as important, Nature also offers breathtaking and spectacular displays to dazzle us day by day, like a living kaleidoscope. It is indeed a season of promise and renewal.

When Indian summer causes the heat to linger, it only heightens our sense of anticipation while awaiting the inevitable. Autumn leaves start to fall, the song lyrics say, and we are transported to pleasant memories of days gone by. Perhaps a September morn on the campus, reminding us of the way we were, or a purposely delayed vacation deliberately calculated to catch some of the most awesome sights this glorious season provides.

Cares of the world don't altogether disappear but somehow they seem a little easier to bear when a hint of chill makes the morning air noticeably brisk and bracing. The World Series of baseball draws nigh climaxing a summer of divisional competition by favorite teams and individual challenges to traditional records. Meanwhile, Saturday afternoons inside college football arenas place on display the unsurpassed enthusiasm of youth, the stirring tunes of marching bands, the athleticism of modern warriors and the provocative chanting of dynamic cheerleaders. Who can resist the temptation to return to the unfettered joy of childhood in the midst of so much unabashed, zestful fervor?

It's a long, long time from May to December. These words, sung in his own husky fashion a half century ago by the late actor Walter Huston in "Knickerbocker Holiday" on Broadway, lead us into "September Song," a brief, soliloquy on the transition of life as expressed in the change of seasons. It is a love song inspired by a May-December romance. The melody and the words have become classics and the musical arrangements have been delightfully varied, from lush orchestral interpretations to the less restrained versions of popular dance bands. Chief among, these, in my estimation, is the harmonic brass and vocal ensemble recording of the Stan Kenton orchestra. It is a distinctive, unique style emphasizing the laconic but, simple cascading of trombones and other brass instruments leading the way from one passage to another. Listen to this particular arrangement every chance you get. Come by and I'll gladly put my CD on for your enjoyment.

But back to the point again. Summer wore out its welcome long ago and for a while it seemed we would never be rid of it. But Mother Nature does not play tricks so severe as that and we are on the accustomed path leading into autumn once again, right on schedule. When I become too impatient for the transition, I go back to Mr. Kenton's classical glissandos and listen as his singers intone the haunting words of "September Song," and I know that all's well with the world again. Please, though, just spare us the ice and snow of winter later on.