HERE WE ARE again, heading into fall, contemplating changes.

The sun dips below the horizon earlier, evenings are cool, and leaves will soon turn color.

I’ve always said there are two things we are guaranteed in life — change and death.

In high school we studied Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, whose poem “The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” reminds us that the same energy that prompts new life also leads to aging and death. When things die, we place them in the ground and they help new things to grow.

The circle of life.

You might say that endings are, in essence, beginnings.

The tinge of sadness we feel as summer turns to fall is as natural as the changing of the seasons, and then we are immersed in fall things — outdoor games, picking apples and tromping through the woods, rejuvenated and energized by the cold air coursing through our lungs.

We’ve packed away our summer things, donned warmer clothes and preserved food from our gardens to be consumed over the long winter ahead.

We are lucky in Maine to have four pronounced seasons that afford us variety on all fronts — stark changes in not only weather, but also the transition from lush green in summer to arresting bursts of color in autumn and then the stark but beautiful white of winter. A cleansing of sorts.

And then the cycle continues.

Holidays help us, I think, to embrace change.

Labor Day reminds us that work and the flurry of summer activity is winding down, that it’s time to rest before fall arrives.

Columbus Day marks the final holiday hurrah, not only for us Mainers, but also for seasonal tourists who make a last trek to the state.

Then the anticipation of Thanksgiving creeps in with simultaneous thoughts of Christmas and Hanukkah.

We begin making lists.

What to buy? What to bake? How may we surprise, delight and nurture?

The focus is on warmth, giving, loving, sharing and reflecting, not only on the previous months, but also the years.

We make way for the New Year, new beginnings.

Rather than lament the past, which we can not change, we do well to embrace it.

As the poet Robert Frost said so exquisitely in his poem “Nothing Gold can Stay”:

“Nature’s first green is gold/Her hardest hue to hold/Her early leaf’s a flower/But only so an hour/Then leaf subsides to leaf/So Eden sank to grief/So dawn goes down to day/Nothing gold can stay.”

When summer moves into fall each year, I also think of the brilliant singer/songwriter Phil Ochs and his song “Changes”:

“Green leaves of summer turn red in the fall/to brown and to yellow they fade/And then they have to die, trapped within/the circle time parade of changes.”

In my youth I thought it a sad song about inevitable change and loss leaving us bereft and longing for the past.

Now that I’m older and harboring many memories, I view change much differently.

I feel fortunate to have survived the difficult transitions, blessed to have partaken of the joyful, and lucky to have made it this far.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 28 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to