Swing into fall

Fall is my favorite season. The change of seasons keeps me here. How could I miss the quarterly full body experience of sight, sound, and feeling as our landscapes and temperatures work their magic, bringing us to a new place without leaving home?

At the end of August, we did leave the comforts of our home for a road trip to the Finger Lakes Region of New York via Mackinac Island and Ontario. The combination summer vacation trip and take-our-daughter-to-college journey brought us to places where Hannah would comment, “I’d love to see this in the fall!”  Trees, in their fall dress, are a wonder to behold. The photos never fully capture the metamorphosis of the leaves, one that will be brief but spectacular.  

Unfortunately, I don’t believe I’ll enjoy this fall.  

Typical of a road trip, we spent each night in a different hotel where after a long day on the road we tend to turn on the television shortly after walking into the room. We watch more TV on a week long road trip than we do in months at home. Our trip home took us through a number of swing states in this year’s presidential campaign.  

First, I’m terrifically thankful I do not live in a swing state. Why? The ads in all media are already overwhelming. My brain spins thinking what it will be like post-conventions and nearing the home stretch, if it is already a beastly, lying mess. 

I believe in the First Amendment. But isn’t there a rule, or a suggestion somewhere, that truth should be the principle in a principled election. When did we get to lie — outright lie — to get our way?  What does this tell our children?  You can lie if you want to get ahead, but please tell the truth when you’re at home? Where did our civil society go?  

The trip was 2,500 miles of family togetherness. Yes, we do love being in our small Prius with a year’s worth of college stuff and three people! We still play license plates games — we got 42 states, D.C, and six Canadian provinces even though we didn’t play for the first two days. We sing along to our favorite musicals, discuss the ideas we meant to all summer, and just enjoy being with one another as we drive through beautiful places. We watched gas prices bounce with no apparent logic from $3.65 to $4.25. In Canada, they were even higher, but the metric conversions still throws me off.

The times that pulled us down were the “news” stories. We’d turn off the radio regardless of which side was talking. To add to the disgust of it all, we traveled during the Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” week.  

Growing up, I could be found on a school or park swing many hours a day. The word swing meant something pleasurable. Flying as high as I could go, getting a different perspective on the world. Freedom. Space. Good times.  

Now, when I hear the word swing, I cringe. The colors red and blue have taken on a new meaning also. Tea was a hot beverage or something poured over ice. I long for the meanings of old and the civility of the discourse. I wouldn’t go back to those days of fewer civil rights, women’s place being primarily in the home, the Cold War, etc. But I would take a Congress that thinks of the good of all, when they worked a full week, and ate dinner together to discuss issues.  

Fall will come. More ads will come. In November, it will be over.

Whatever happens, however horrible it may get, remember it is your sacred duty to vote. Just do it! And then the winter will envelope us all.

Welcome Jerde lives in Lynnhurst with her husband and sometimes editor, Dan Berg.