McAbee: Fall’s welcome change |

McAbee: Fall’s welcome change

Jeff McAbee

When clouds roll in and stay for a day or two like they have this week and shroud the Tenmile Range from view … And when temperatures begin to drop into the 30s at night, you don’t have to be a meteorologist to know summer has all but passed and autumn has called to let us know it will be bringing the kids and occupying our spare bedroom for a while.

I’ve got friends who won’t let me say the four-letter word that begins with “s” and ends with “snow.” They love summer so much that they hate to see it go. We cringe at the thought of wearing all the clothes we own at once, wearing boots and feeling that spot on the tips of our noses get hard and lifeless from the beginning stages of frostbite.

Yet for all the grumbling these friends will do about the change, they will be the people with the biggest smiles on their faces on a powder day, lining up to catch the first chair on opening day at the resort or breathing the biggest sigh of relief and feeling the greatest sense of peace when they walk their dog through the first snowfall.

They will know the joy of watching Fido bounce around with renewed enthusiasm rolling around in the white stuff.

I haven’t had the luxury of a stable life like some. I haven’t been married to the same woman for 20 years. I don’t live in the house I grew up in. I’ve had to adapt, re-invent, and restructure ever since leaving the nest.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now. Change. But, each year Nature pulls our pants down and blows a north wind through our legs to remind us of the way things are; to remind us the Earth revolves around the Sun (I know it doesn’t appear this way) giving us the seasons.

If you live long enough – and my guess is if you are reading this then you have – you get to watch people pass through different seasons of life, from childhood to old age. We do sometimes forget that, just because one season ends, we need not dread the next. In other words, just because summer is down to its last finger on the ledge, autumn can still be a nice descent into winter. Maybe that’s why they call it “fall.” “Fall” need not be like tumbling over scree and talus after going end-over the handle bars but can be like the “fall” as in to “fall” asleep.

Nonetheless, some of us will choose the former rather than the latter and hit pretty hard. Our property tax revenues are down 16 percent in the county. I live on a block with four homes in foreclosure and two more for sale. I watched a close friend and neighbor sift through everything she owns because the finance company gave her two hours to move out. Talk about a fall.

And my girlfriend lost her husband three years ago when he drank himself to death in a hotel in Denver while she was at home with their three kids – including the youngest, who was 6 weeks old at the time. I’m certain she would rather have remained in the fair weather and warm temperatures of a tidy nuclear family. Bad news never has good timing.

Maybe Nature shows us with the passing of each season that, for a lot of us, it’s not always fair. I realize there are those who live in a near paradisiacal state, a pleasure cruise on the tranquil trade winds. But smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

It’s not that I begrudge you if you have no scars, it’s that I would be embarrassed to tell you about the stupid stuff I’ve done, and I grow bored of reading your travel stories in magazines that chronicle all the beautiful places you have visited.

No, I feel more at ease around people who have had their leaves stripped by an icy blast or two but who know life doesn’t end there. In fact, the nice thing about rock bottom is that you’ve got a solid foundation to build on.

My friend who lost her home moved into a sweet apartment in a few days, relieved to be out from under her old place.

The girlfriend and I are getting on well despite some obvious challenges. We sit and watch the sunrise from my deck, coffee in hand and, for a brief moment, rest assured in the hope of an unclouded day. Until then, we’ve lived long enough to know summer will return, that we don’t have to dread the change in between, we can actually revel in it.

Jeff McAbee lives in Breckenridge. He’s a campus supervisor at Summit High School. Contact him at or via Twitter @Jeff_McAbee.

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