Perhaps the most pleasant memory of my college years is walking home under brilliantly sunny skies amidst the sights and smells of a glorious autumnal leaf display after the home football team vanquished an opponent before a sellout crowd. Well, it happened again on Saturday.* * * * *Actually, there was a difference or two. Back in my undergraduate days Joe Biden was an upperclassman. On Saturday he was the vice president dude sitting in the university president's box on the 50-yard line chatting amiably with another university graduate -- the corpulent Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, who arrives at each home game in a procession of motorcycle escorts and black SUVs with blacked-out windows. Biden's entourage, by comparison, is smaller and much less flashy. Just like the state of Delaware itself.* * * * *People who get their knickers in a knot over the so-called nanny state shouldn't object if they or a loved one become deathly ill with, say salmonella poisoning, which seems to happen with some frequency these days. After all, those two heroes of deregulation and deoversight -- Ronald Rayguns and Dubya -- saw to it that federal food inspections be cut back.* * * * *Is Philadelphia's regional rail system the only one where there are routine delays on autumn days because of slippery rails due to fallen leaves?Iggie is the youngest of our four rescue cats, and his Over the Cuckoo's Nest facial expressions, exploding Maine coon cat coat and slightly crossed green eyes mask an innate intelligence that I have seen in few other felines. He also is an extraordinary mouser, patrolling the garage with a ferocity that leaves no rodent unscathed. But even I was surprised when I was sorting through our recycling box the other morning and found among the bottles, cans and cardboard a neatly deposited and thoroughly beheaded field mouse.
* * * * ** * * * *You know that national politics have taken a turn for the weird when a Senate candidate begins her first television commercial with the words "I am not a witch."* * * * *Our squirrels go into hyperdrive this time of year, laboriously collecting acorns, walnuts and other edibles for burial and then retrieval in the spring. But the feeling persists that their genetic perspicacity aside, some of them are not terribly smart. Like the squirrel I observed at some length yesterday who was trying to dig a nut hole in concrete.* * * * *Science has unlocked many mysterious of nature, although not why a former witch aspires for higher office and Chris Christie is allowed to drive a state already on the fiscal skids further into the ditch. Or why leaves in temperate climates turn such brilliant colors some autumns but not other autumns. Part of the answer has to do with chlorophyll production, but scientists pretty much remain baffled about why some autumns hereabouts have brilliant leaf displays and others do not. And that's just fine with me.IMAGE:
"The Return of the Herd" (1565) by Peter Breugel the Elder