As I go for a run through town I take a deep breath in and am struck with the smell of a freshly lit fire place that ignites the crisp October air.
As I look at the time the clock turns 5:00 o’clock pm, and I see the sun departing downwards behind the river to my left. The sky is portraying a mix of beautiful vibrant colors such as yellow, pink, orange, and purple.
It’s in that moment you’ll see a unique grin and quick chuckle on my face, as if my secret crush just gave me her number, because I know it’s my favorite time of the year.
It is officially Fall.
I take a break from my run, and sit down on a bench overlooking the river at an old hangout spot with friends, BlackBerry Bay Park. I gaze out into the sunset with its reflection shining against the water appearing as a whole different world. I think about a million different things going through my mind. But, as I continue to stare, it’s then when everything calms down, and I reflect on why I love Fall so much.
One would think that because I’ve lived on the Jersey Shore my entire life that going to the beach and Summer is my favorite time of the year. One would think that because I’m a hockey player that perhaps Winter is my favorite season.
When ever I close my eyes and picture what “home” is to me, I don’t see the Jersey beaches and warm weather that come with it. I see the colors, memories, sights, and smells that Fall brings and has brought to me.
To me, a “New Jersey Fall” is home. It’s the little things about it that I love the most.
For me, it’s a time of the year that brings new beginnings. It’s always been the start of a new semester, or a potential new chapter introduced into my life. There’s an excitement in the air and atmosphere that seems like there’s always a new adventure waiting to happen.
I love that it’s a great time of the year for sports. Growing up it was a start to a new season for a travel, high school, or college team. For Professional sports there’s a lot taking place all at once. The NHL, NBA, and NFL seasons begin, while the MLB’s postseason and World Series takes place and usually ends in dramatic fashion.
When it’s Fall I picture sleeping in on a Saturday or Sunday morning waking up to that light, cool, and crisp wind sneak through my cracked window. That breeze carries the noise of the colorful leaves rustling outside against the streets, and children’s laughter while they run around outside. I hear the broadcast and referee’s whistles from either a college or Professional football game from a TV in the house.
I reflect back on the bike rides after school and late night walks wearing hoodies, packing lips, and having classic conversations on a 50 degree day or night. We ventured to the same bench I am sitting on while I rest on my run and admire Fall’s characteristics.
I picture intense wiffle ball and football games in the backyard with the guys, as the leaves covered the “field” on an October day after school.
September into November I loved and miss the feeling of knowing I had a game come Saturday and Sunday with my Toms River boys for travel hockey. Now, every time I experience the smells and sights of Fall I immediately get the chills down my back as I think of heading down to Winding River and seeing all of my teammates and Coaches. Coming out of the rink after a game or practice in October was always a refreshing and enjoyable feeling, especially after a win.
I think back to the amazing memories Fall has brought to my family, like two of my cousin’s beautiful weddings. One of which I always say was the greatest night of my life – It took place on a flawless Friday in early October.
The leaves were just beginning to transform into their bright colors, and the temperature was a perfect 60 degrees. The ceremony was gorgeous, which took place in a small church next to a lake across the street from the beach. The reception entailed one big, fun, and crazy Irish family truly making the most out of the festive night.
Fall is a fun trend setting season which I always look forward too. Judge me, but I love the fact that it brings the opportunity to dress up – I get to wear long pants, shoes, jackets, and scarfs.
As I’ve gotten older Fall has also brought new traditions such as getting off the train and walking to bars with good friends before a Devils game. The weather outside makes the experience that much better.
For some reason I like the atmosphere of a rainy or overcast day in the Fall where I can listen the to the rain crackle on my roof or windows. I like walking outside to a unique gray haze as it’s both an excuse and somehow inspires me to brainstorm or write.
As I sit on the bench and take in the Fall sunset I am at peace, because I realize it’s the little things that I love most about fall…
Fall is home.