It has been stated that you can take a guy out of New England, but you can never take New England out of the guy.
While I’m not exactly sure who said that, other than me, I can tell you that this time of year, more than any other, is when this rings most true. According to the calendar, September 22 is the autumnal equinox, ringing in the first full day of fall. To me, however, now that October is here autumn is in full swing. It is during the month of October that the days become noticeably shorter…it’s dark when I leave the house in the morning and my car’s headlights automatically illuminate during the drive home…the temperatures become cooler and less humid, the neighbors plant their chrysanthemums, the Halloween decorations begin to appear everywhere, the leaves start to slowly change from green to vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds, and we get to photograph our kids picking apples.
This will be my sixth autumn living in South Jersey, and while there are certainly pockets of fall foliage, the NJ Pinelands tend to be more dominated with a canopy of green that either stays through the winter or turns brown and sheds to the thick bed of needles beneath which Tony Soprano and his henchmen have been alleged to leave their victims. The bottom line is that it ain’t New England.
I like living in South Jersey. We have Philly pretzels, hoagies, water ice (go figure that one out), and cheese steaks to die for. We have Philadelphia, Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore. We have thriving urban culture surrounded by bucolic farmland that produces the world’s best tomatoes. We have, if you’re so inclined, the Eagles, the Phillies, the Sixers and the Flyers (If not so inclined, the wonder of satellite TV still lets us root for the Pats, the Red Sox, the Celtics and the Bruins). What we don’t have, however, is New England fall foliage.
As much as I like living in South Jersey, I miss living in New England. Don’t misunderstand…I’m very content and don’t have any regrets having moved here at all…especially now that I can watch the Pats on the NFL Sunday Ticket channels. However, I miss driving around rotaries rather than jug handles or traffic circles. I miss heading out to Revere Beach (pronounced Reevee-ah) to get fried clams and chowdah at Kelly’s Roast Beef (open 24 hours every day except Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day). I miss Fenway Franks and sausages on Yawkey Way. I miss Jim Plunket on Thursday nights at the Purple Shamrock. I miss getting ice cream at Kimball’s and picking pumpkins at Arena Farms in Concord.
Most of all, however, I miss the rolling hills and mountain sides filled with the earthy yet brilliant colors of fall in New England.
I guess having lived in New England for almost 40 years I took for granted the Monet-like masterpiece of nature that surrounded me every day. There were always experiences with “leaf peepers” behind whom a normal 10 minute drive through the Massachusetts countryside would take an hour. But now I understand why they would do it…come to New England to simply drive and look at leaves….now I get it!!
I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve traveled in the majority of the lower 48 states and Hawaii. I’ve been to Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and the Middle East. I’ve hiked some of the grandest National Parks that our great country has to offer. But most of all I’m fortunate to have grown up and lived right in the middle of a gem that seems to only last for a few weeks…I miss that gem…I miss October in New England.
If you haven’t, you should try it…perhaps you’ll come away wishing that you, too, were a New England guy!!