Columbus week

Never mind the calendar: It's Columbus Day that marks the real coming of fall. Or, in the case of 1984, the long-running week of Columbus Day: This year our loyalties are divided between the official holiday, last Monday, and the traditional one - Oct. 12, this Friday.

In either case, fall is icumen in this week, increasingly red-and-yellow, with relatively little warning.

Overall, this year's seasons shifted faster than a teen-ager in a drag race. Parts of the mountainous West skipped fall altogether, zipping directly from summer's heat to winter's snow.

Congress has spent the last few weeks producing a blizzard of its own, a paper one. For a while, members eager to begin the nation's business of reelecting themselves were passing laws with the speed of politicians reaching for voters' hands.

That's one season that's predictable: the political season. And it gets longer every year. The way things are going, pretty soon there won't be any shifts in and out of this season. It'll be year-round, January through January.

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