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TEN BEST

by Keith Barber

REASONS TO LOVE AUTUMN

FOOTBALL!

There is no better rite of passage for young boys than buckling up their chinstraps and knocking heads with an opponent. Football is synonymous with fall, and the shrines to the sport are monuments that hold up to 100,000 spectators. The great Roman Colosseum could handle only half that number. Football is unique in that it is the ultimate team sport and forces its participants to push themselves beyond their perceived physical and mental limits. “Playing the game doesn’t build character, it merely reveals it.” “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” Where would this country be without the great platitudes associated with football? If baseball is America’s pastime, football is America’s passion. At least that’s what Al Pacino said during the ESPY Awards. Of course, he was promoting his film, Any Given Sunday, so take it for what it’s worth.

THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY AND THE TURNING OF THE LEAVES

The value of natural beauty and what it adds to our quality of life cannot be overestimated. Living in the Piedmont Triad has many advantages, and one of the biggest is our proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway. And there is no better time of year to take a leisurely drive on US 52 North through Cana, Va., and along the winding mountain road to Fancy Gap. Pass under the stone bridge at the top of the hill and hang a left. When you reach the parkway, you’ll have to decide whether to go east or west. I would encourage you to go east and stop at the Orchard Gap General Store, Mabry Mill and Chateau Morrisette Winery. Get out of the car and take a long walk through forest trails surrounded by brightly colored leaves. Enjoy the silence pierced only by the gentle crunching of leaves underfoot.

CRISP OCTOBER NIGHTS

In life, we have perfect moments. One of the most vivid perfect moments of my childhood is feeling that first crisp autumn breeze while leaving my great grandmother’s house. I describe it as a moment of insight that we are connected to everything in the universe. These moments can come at any age, and they stay with us forever. So each year, I await that first chilly October night with great anticipation and hope for another perfect moment.

THANKSGIVING

Some people feel that Thanksgiving is the greatest holiday of all because it is a holiday founded on the deeply powerful emotion of gratitude. To live in gratitude is to live in eternal bliss. Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the holiday season when we reconnect with friends and family. Maintaining those ties to our loved ones has been proven to impact our overall physical and mental health, as well as longevitiy. Also, turkey contains high levels of tryptophan, an essential amino acid, so loading up your plate can be a good thing. Just go easy on the pumpkin pie.

ELECTION SEASON

For political junkies, fall means election season. Last year, America experienced an historic presidential election. This year, Piedmont Triad residents get the opportunity to select local leaders whose decisions will have a greater impact on their lives than President Obama’s. There is something truly empowering about watching elected officials ask for your vote. You control your destiny in our democracy, so whatever you do, please participate in the process.

LOCAL ARTS SCENE KICKS INTO HIGH GEAR

SECCA, Krankies Werehouse, Diggs Gallery, Twin City Stage, Triad Stage at the Pyrle Theatre, Theatre Alliance, Weatherspoon Museum, Elsewhere Artist Collaborative, the Stevens Center — these are just a few of the Piedmont Triad arts venues that are brimming with activity every fall. With students back in school at Wake Forest, UNC School of the Arts, UNCG, Salem College, Guilford College, GTCC, NC A&T University, Greensboro College and Winston- Salem State the arts scene soars this time of year. The hardest part is deciding which play, opera, gallery exhibition or concert to go see.

COLD, GRAY MORNINGS AND CLASSICAL MUSIC

Maybe it’s a melancholy thought, but there’s something comforting about a cold, overcast morning, hot coffee or tea, and classical music emanating from the radio or laptop computer. With no agenda for the day, it opens itself up to infinite creativity. Reading, writing or composing music are the perfect pastimes on chilly fall mornings, or sometimes rolling over and getting a few more hours of sleep in the comfort of a warm bed.

WARM FIRES AND CUDDLE TIME

There’s something magical about building the first fire of the season. Of course, if you have a gas fireplace, you merely flip a switch. But I’m a fan of conventional fireplaces and wood stoves. Our DNA contains all the information we need to build a big, life-sustaining fire. It is part of our genetic inheritance from our ancestors. And as we feel that shot of adrenaline course through our veins when we finally get a blaze started, we realize that Carl Jung was right. The collective unconscious is part of our nature.

RENEWING OLD FRIENDSHIPS

College and high school reunions always seem to happen in the fall. It’s like the pace of life slows enough that we can focus on the human priorities of making real and satisfying connections with friends, lovers and family members.

BEGINNING OF FILM FESTIVAL SEASON

Granted, not everyone is an independent film festival lover, but September marks the unofficial beginning of the film festival season. It is a time of celebration for film lovers who care about the next frontier of the medium, or those who simply enjoy good films. The Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF is held in September and signals the beginning of the next wave of talented filmmakers who hope to gain distribution for their cinematic gems. It also means that Sundance is only four months away. That is reason enough to celebrate the marvelous season of fall.

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