The changing of the leaves, extremes in temperature and the return of football all announce the arrival of autumn to New England.

Of all the seasons of our fair state, this is the favorite of many, because its colors have so many layers of meaning. Each tree produces its own colors, and the location, access to water and a host of countless variables all add to the brilliant display of optical delights.

As with the trees, each country of origin, every heritage, cultural background, location and family lineage, all contribute to the many peoples who make up both Maine and the United States of America.

As with the snowflakes, no two leaves are ever the same, because each depends on its unique history of biology, chemistry and geography, to mingle into a delight for the eyes. While uniformity among the leaves is necessary in the spring for photosynthesis, the autumn counts on differences, combinations and mixtures for the dazzling burst of various pigments.

How boring the fall would be in New England if the leaves did not respond to the lessening of the light with individual creations of hues and textures. Difference is good among the leaves on the trees, and difference is also good among the peoples of our great nation.

One kind of leaf on the ground doesn’t make for a stunning autumn, nor does one kind of person make for the greatest nation in the history of humankind.

Our strength lies in our variety; anyone can become an American. We do not ask anyone to sacrifice their identity or heritage to share in our human experiment. If anything we celebrate everyone’s taste in food and dress and expression. This fall, as we walk amongst the absolute feast for our eyes, let us also wonder at the beauty in other faces, tongues and lives of one another.

James A. Weathersby, Augusta

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