I’m not sure why – perhaps because I was a cusp of autumn baby or partly because I am now in my autumn years of life, but whatever the reason, autumn is my season. In spring, I delight in the excitement of new growth poking through the ground and peeking out on branches of tree limbs to signal the end of winter. In summer, I thrive in the warmth of the sun and the flowers, butterflies and the nature world that opens up in full bloom for us to enjoy. In winter, I patiently wait for the first pristine snowfall because it reminds me of peace and calm and a cleansing of the earth. But autumn – autumn is like coming home.
In autumn I feel like I’m one with the earth and the colors and the scents. From the first signs of the color changes in the leaves of the trees and shrubs and the wetlands grasses, I’m off on the chase around my part of the state to see and capture the richness of the season. I want to embrace it, revel in it and hold on to the beauty of it. When the last leaves drop from the trees and the bare branches signal the advent of winter, I feel a keen sense of loss but at the same time, happily sated with the visions of the sights and tastes of season.
Now that most of the colorful display has ended and I’m sitting at the computer sorting through the photos that I took, I can’t help but think about it like this. From the first hint of yellowing foliage to the last burnt orange leaf hanging from a tree branch, Mother Nature is dressing up in her best party clothes and inviting us to a party to celebrate the beauty and bounty of the earth that she has provided. She is breaking open the champagne and compelling us to feast on the last of the locally grown fruits and vegetables for the year. She is urging us to remember, as the leaves fall, acorns drop and seeds blow that we need to put back into the earth what it needs to ensure a healthy rebirth in spring. Perhaps after all, that is what I love best about autumn. It is a big, bold ‘in your face’ reminder of all that we have to be grateful for. It is indeed a time for giving thanks and celebrating the richness of the earth.
There are many parts of the USA that are known for their autumn beauty but for me, New Jersey is right up there with the best. Some of my favorite jaunts this year have been to Waterloo Village in Stanhope and the Allamuchy mountains; Sussex County along the NY border; a drive from Clinton and Route 513 northward through Chester and into the Rockaway and Boonton areas; Palisades Interstate Park; the Great Falls of Paterson and my local New Jersey Meadowlands. I did indeed “top off my autumn satisfaction tank” this year with as many leaf-peaking trips as I could squeeze in. The pleasure of seeing the variety of beautiful mosaic landscapes created by deep and bold jewel colors will warm me through the winter as will the scents and tastes of fresh apples, spicy seasonal pies and the ubiquitous apple cider donuts that fill the farm market stands. I’m deeply grateful for the natural areas, parks, woodlands, wetlands and farmland that make this state such a special place to enjoy autumn and those who work so hard to ensure that these places are available for us.
BEST WISHES TO ALL FOR A HAPPY THANKGIVING!!!