The first day of fall recently arrived and I was out enjoying a good walk with Michaleen when I realized why I love this time of year so much. Yes I love spring and summer (notice I’m not mentioning winter), but there are so many things to like about this time of the year that, taken as a whole, make it my favorite. It was forty-eight degrees overnight, perfect for sleeping with the windows open, with the daytime high reaching sixty-eight degrees; warm in the sun and slightly cool in the shade; especially with a slight breeze added; the kind of day when combining a long sleeve sweatshirt with shorts makes sense.
The air is crisper than in summer and the blue sky appears higher and lighter. Due to the angle of the sun, the shadows are longer and this leads to a greater contrast with the sunshine. The smells in the air are pungent as the leaves begin to die and slowly drift to the ground; leading to a crunching sound underfoot as each step finds a new victim. Another aroma that eventually permeates the night air is the whiff of burning wood as fireplaces bring comfort and atmosphere; adding warmth to offset the cool night air.
And then there’s football. I recall as a junior high kid what it was like to go to the high school football games on Friday night. Dad would go to the game and offer me a ride, but often I would decline; wanting instead to walk with my friends. As we drew closer and closer to the stadium, walking in the cool night air with hands in jacket pockets, we first heard the high school band; drums off in the distance. This sound was akin to what the drum and fife corps played to fire up the troops prior to an upcoming battle, and it had much the same effect on me. Getting closer to our destination we began to see over the tops of the houses and trees the bright lights of the stadium, lighting up the sky all around.
Once inside the stadium; the hustle and bustle of the fans, the sound of the cheerleaders cheering, the band playing, old men discussing the coach and key players, the stadium announcer shouting out player’s names, the team running through the paper covered hoop with painted mascot, cow bells clanging and plastic jugs filled with coins shaking, smells of popcorn and hot dogs coming from the concession stand, the rowdiness of the smaller boys playing behind the stands, mist coming from mouths as each breath is exhaled, pads crunching as players fly headlong into one another, referee’s whistles tweeting in urgency for each play to end, scoreboard lit up with seconds counting down between plays and the home team in the lead; all a part of the Friday night experience.
I was fortunate to enjoy all of the above as a boy, but even more fortunate to relive it as an adult with both of my sons playing high school football. With the two of them on the field it was more intense than I could remember from my youth. Its one thing to play the game and quite another to watch it. And when your son scores a touchdown and the fans erupt with excitement; wow, what a feeling! A father couldn’t ask for much more. As I said earlier, I love this time of the year.