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Change of the seasons

Alan Braunholtz

Small changes subtly herald the passing of another season: fleeces snugly closed on morning dog walks; the river splashes raising hairs on the skin; humming birds ebb and flow in style and number as different types ease into their southern migration; leaves rustle around the deck; and I find more free time as only the tourists without children remain and rafting slows down.Summer is coming to an end, a sweet and sour taste for the emotions. Change is exciting – or at least interesting. None of that “tropical daiquiris on the beach forever” sense of ennui up here where the seasons offer such different challenges and opportunities. You don’t have to do much to experience the renewal of change in the mountains; the seasons will travel to you.The lingering bitter presence, after the realization that the addictive high of skiing is only two months away edges into the brain, are all the summer plans you didn’t do – yet. Also, without much warning a lot of people start vanishing from your daily life as they’re drawn into their different winter orbit. Some even disappear altogether as they travel away, seeking a change in place if not their seasonal trade.People are always coming and going here, perhaps why Vail manages to avoid for the most part that small-town curse of “you’ll never be a local like me” attitude. This human migration is part of life up here, and it’s mentally easier to assume you’ll see them again next summer just like the last until you don’t. Life isn’t that predictable. People stay, move, get married, get fired, have children and, sadly, die.These waning days of summer are a challenge to the joys of procrastination as “the endless summer” mindset gets shaken up by frost on the windscreen and all those plans impatiently and annoyingly jostle for actual implementation. The true procrastinators have to stay strong – remember procrastination isn’t merely doing nothing – that’s just sloth. Procrastination is about meaning to do something. You have plans and goals, often in great detail, and an excited anticipation.Procrastination’s great advantage is there’s no post-event letdown, no anticlimax when reality falls short of your imagination. It makes you a more interesting person as you talk about all the things you’re going to do. Some say this is good practice for talk radio where those who do nothing talk endlessly about how they’d do stuff better than those who’re actually trying it.It can be cheaper, though not always. You may not use the stuff but buying the lightweight tent, new wheels, even the race registration fee are part of the anticipation process. It’s a time-honored freshman college technique to buy books in anticipation of good grades. I still have shelves full of books that look pretty good. One I’d recommend is “Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It” by Geoffrey Dyer. It got good reviews, apparently, and some day I’ll read it.My cure for procrastination is to nix the plan. Planning is useful but the perfect plan gets in the way of spontaneous living and plans always change anyway. There’s no letdown when there’s no plan, and with cell phones who needs to plan ahead anymore?The last days of summer offer another chance to enjoy the seasons and friends that are here now. Worth a phone call and at most time not spent i) surfing the net ii) reading the paper (again) iii) watching TV iv) browsing shopping catalogues or v) insert favorite procrastination activity here.The seasons will always be back, but will you? Enjoy it now.Alan Braunholtz of Vail writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado


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