By B.G. Kelley

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for autumn's redeeming presence.

Driving through neighborhoods such as East Falls, Germantown, and Roxborough, where old trees and fields explode with color, and walking in the midst of Fairmount Park's many scenic stages, autumn cleanses me from the sludge of the presidential election campaigns. Thank you, Lord.

Autumn, you see, provides purity, beauty, honesty.

Indeed, autumn gifts me with a more sensual - physical, psychic, and spiritual - experience: trees sighing and swaying in the crisp air; leaves aflame in a fortune's worth of gold and red, yellow, and rust; an unexhausted sun, neither torrid like summer nor gentle like spring, splashing down boldly; a river racing on full-go; beds of chrysanthemums casting colorful landscapes; geese - graceful creatures of God - waddling on a river bank and reminding me that I must keep alert to my soul's destiny.

And something else: autumn gives me no reason to fear. I promise to keep my promises safe and strong by ignoring the leaner promises of governing grown-ups.

Autumn, too, introduces an easy-to-embrace energy for running, writing, teaching, thinking, walking in sweaters and sneakers - welcome respites before wicked winter, when the sun is short, the landscape spare, the temperatures limiting.

Certainly, as the son of a florist, I believe I was born and made for autumn. Its colorful and creative presence, particularly the mix of leaves on bended boughs, is not unlike the hundreds of colorful and creative bouquets and centerpieces my pop and I made for family Thanksgiving dinner tables every autumn.

Once, years ago, I spent three fall seasons sitting on a rock along the West River Drive, overlooking the Schuylkill, writing poetry. I found my writing tenor; just as important, I found my space.

Space is a sign of more sane and nourishing thoughts; indeed, space accommodates reasoning, as well as critical and creative thinking, and permits me to turn abstract ideas into particular meanings. Yes, I have hugged and held on to autumn's place in space for more than 40 years.

I once learned a lesson about space from a cat - my cat. Hobette felt none of the human compulsion to compete, or win, or own anything. He simply sought his own space to purr, to think, to observe, to make decisions - that is, of course, after he had been fed.

I embraced Hobette's sense of the importance of space.

Perhaps more of us should respect the gifts that space gives us.

Yet, seemingly, we have a cultural propensity to build against space, to squeeze it tight with more housing, more corporate skylines, more athletic stadiums, more traffic.

So, yes, as I grow older, each autumn becomes more message-bearing to me. When it whittles its gifts into slivers of space - a goose on a spacious river; a golden leaf in a huge tree; a stevedore sun in the vast sky; a fall flower in a stretch of a field, a single sculler on the water's expanse - I discover more of autumn's goods. Indeed, I discover more of myself.

I wonder if it's that way with you.

B.G. Kelley is a Philadelphia writer. bgklly@yahoo.com