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As the last leaf of autumn falls

Can an event be a dramatic event if nobody sees it happen? I say yes. The first day of creation there was nothing, zero, a void -- and a second later there was a big boom and there was the universe. Could any event be more dramatic than that? But there was nobody there to see it. It's drama anyway.

For me another dramatic event (on a much lower scale of drama) is when the last leaf of autumn drops to the ground. But that will probably happen on a cold, rainy, windy night and there's a good chance nobody will be there to see that either.

It was a Saturday afternoon late in September and I was mowing, raking and picking up leaves and hauling them away. But the trees were still loaded and the colors were brilliant and beautiful. It was sunny, warm and calm -- a perfect fall day -- and I was enjoying every minute of it, happy I wasn't anywhere else on earth.

An autumn afternoon like that puts me in a nostalgic mood, musing with pleasure about the sights, sounds, smells and songs of the season. The first song that played in my mind, then I found myself whistling and singing it, was "Autumn Leaves." It's a song about the end of summer and a sweet summer romance:

"Since you went away, the days grow long

And soon I'll hear old winter's song

But I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall."

Behind me as I worked, leaves continued to fall on turf that had been raked clean just minutes before. And like a falling leaf, "September Song," another love song, came floating into my mood:

"Oh it's a long, long while

From May to December

And the days grow short

When you reach September

When the autumn weather

Turns leaves to flame

One hasn't got time

For the waiting game

Oh the days dwindle down

To a precious few

September, November,

And those precious days

I'll spend with you."

It was a mellow mood, and the pace of my work measured the pace of my mood. The leaves continued to drift down and I knew it would be some time and more raking before the job was finished. Then I remembered a short story by O. Henry. You will remember that O. Henry was the master of the short story. He quit school when he was 15. Later he spent three years in prison. The story that floated down into my beautiful scene was "The Last Leaf." If you haven't read it, I give it my highest recommendation. I don't want to tell you much about the story except to tell you the story is about the falling leaves of autumn and much more and to tell you that O. Henry was known for his surprise endings. He also wrote the more familiar "The Gift of the Magi."

There is no more magnificent season than autumn. I hope you can get out, feel the color, the cool and the warmth all at once, and let your mind remember old days, old loves, old songs and old stories. But don't wait too long -- the days are dwindling down to a precious few. You may just get to be there to witness a dramatic event, the last leaf of the season falling to the earth.