A Perfect Day

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(HOST) Commentator Ruth Page has lived in Vermont for many years – long enough in fact to feel downright giddy at the unexpected warmth of a day of Indian Summer or the January Thaw. But she’s also been following environmental issues for 20 years, so these moments of euphoria are no longer anxiety-free.

(PAGE) As my ’99 Toyota picked its away along snowy streets, I found myself thinking back to a perfect October day; and not just perfect, mind you, but outrageous. Downright show-offy. Nature, with real NERVE, produced that perfect day in 2007 as late as October 21 in northern Vermont. She was like a 16-year-old peacocking around in her first formal gown for her junior prom, as if she had to prove how lovely she could be.
It was a Sunday. The trees were still showing their autumn reds and golds, the breeze was light, the sun was brilliant, there wasn’t a single puff of cloud anywhere in the sky. The bowl overhead was pale as an infant’s blanket near the horizon, gently deepening through azure and true blue to a glowing, profound, thrilling rainbow-blue at the top of the bowl.
Every wooded path was paved in gold leaves fallen from the swaying branches overhead, leaf-edges just starting to curl, and enough bright red leaves from various bushes to emphasize the sunny color of the yellows.
Okay, it WAS lovely. It was a breathtaking day, to the point where everyone you met outdoors would stop to exclaim with you on its brilliance. Many would explain how they had planned to catch up on their indoor work, but made the fatal mistake of looking out the window. After that, they absolutely could not stay indoors. Many were out in their cars, probably going for a foliage drive, but plenty of us were reveling in simply walking. The slower pace meant we wouldn’t miss a single nuance of color under our feet or over our heads.
Nature shouldn’t have done it. It was not a Good Thing. How could we concentrate attention on the fact that we have abused her terribly, dirtying her skies, earth and waters, with all this marvelous beauty before us?
I had to force myself to remember that it was not a virtue, but a human fault, that made so glorious a day of 70-degree temperatures possible in a northern state in mid-autumn. How could we possibly revel in this relaxing warmth, when we recalled how abnormal it was? We know it was our own fault that there was no longer hope of the October chill, and sometimes snows, of forty or fifty years ago. I found it hard, amid all that fall beauty, to force myself to think logically. I put off my concerns until late in the afternoon when the light breeze turned to a strong wind that blew off my hat, whipped branches along the woods-paths, and became downright annoying. Then I let myself worry about what just about every scientist is now convinced we humans have done to Earth’s climate.

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