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December 06, 2016
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The summer knows…

The Upper Delaware valley draws thousands of tourists each year to witness the fall foliage that is beginning to explode with color throughout the region.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

I never used to think of myself as predictable, but as the years pass, certain traditions I hold dear seem more firmly rooted in my psyche than ever before, and I’ve surrendered to the possibility that I mark time in ways that make sense… to me. It’s a bit daunting that the calendar year seems to fly by these days, but I’m of “a certain age” and as the days grow shorter, I’m reminded that I have more summers behind me than lie ahead. With fall officially here, I’m doing my best to live in the moment and not worry about frigid temperatures and shoveling—there’s plenty of time (uh huh) for that down the road. Meanwhile, as the leaves begin to turn, I hear the strains of haunting music that imprinted on my young mind many years ago, in a darkened theater, watching “The Summer of 42” play across the screen.

The theme song, "The Summer Knows," is (IMHO) beautiful, haunting, and captures the end of one season and the beginning of another in such an evocative way, that I download and post it every year on the first day of autumn to share with anyone who cares to listen. The music, written by the incomparable Michel Legrand, moves me deeply and the lyrics, by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, capture the essence of the passage of time. “The summer smiles, the summer knows, and unashamed, she sheds her clothes,” drifts through the air as I think about raking, pumpkins and attempting to snap photos that will linger beyond the last leaf fluttering to the lightly frosted blades of grass. Slightly unwilling to let go, I let the words and music wash over me. “The summer smoothes the restless sky, and lovingly she warms the sand on which you lie.” I play it over and over these first few days, as I make my way through the Upper Delaware River Valley, camera in hand, as Dharma and I stop to hand apples to our neighbor’s horses, while observing the barns fill with hay.

As predicted, we spent two days last week with scores of volunteers, working the phones and soliciting donations on-air for Thunder 102’s third annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radiothon. Still in the midst of a difficult economic climate, I was unsure how it would all turn out, but I continued to listen to the song: “The summer knows, the summer’s wise, she sees the doubts within your eyes,” and let go, hoping for the best. The event (with the help of so many members of the community) was a huge success, and together, we raised more than $38,000 (in 48 hours) to help fight childhood cancer. On behalf of everyone involved, we thank you.

Hearing that Jeff Bank was celebrating its 100th birthday (Dharma has an account), we stopped by to congratulate the staff and wish them well, before heading out to yet another volunteer committee meeting, this time in anticipation of (gasp) making “the magic of Christmas come alive.” Santa’s Village (www.facebook.com/santasvillageathilltophomes) is “a free annual event open to the community,” started by Dave and Corinne Dunlap, when they realized that there was “nowhere in the Monticello area for kids and adults alike to see Santa and enjoy the magic of Christmas.” Their mission “to raise funds for Sullivan County CASA” (www.sullivancoutycasa.org) and provide gifts under the tree for kids (www.toysfortots.org) has grown exponentially over the years, and partnering with the M&M Auto Group (www.mmautogroup.com) and Thunder 102 (dot com) has enabled the Dunlaps to see their dreams realized, one toy at a time. “Over the last few years,” the Dunlap’s shared, “we have collected well over $15,000 and more than 3,000 toys at Santa’s Village, while assisting CASA (court appointed special advocates), which provides screened, trained and supervised volunteers, appointed by the court, to speak up for the needs of abused and neglected children,”

Since Santa’s Village is a free event, it literally “takes a village” to make the Dunlap’s dream (The Hilltop Express, spectacular decorations and a musical show with over 150,000 lights) a reality for the community at large, and so naturally, we solicit donations in an effort to provide holiday memories for those less fortunate. It seems early, but this year promises to be bigger and better than ever before, which requires months of planning and scores of volunteers. Once again, the lyrics nudge me into action. “And so she takes her summertime, tells the moon to wait and the sun to linger, twist the world ‘round her summer finger. Let’s you see the wonder of it all. And if you learned your lesson well, there’s little more for her to tell, one last caress, it’s time to dress… for fall.”

To contribute to Santa’s Village, call Dave Dunlap at 845/807-7555, or email hilltophomes02@aol.com, or contact me directly at Jonathanfox@riverreporter.com.