Whatever our place, it has been visited by the stranger, it will never be new again. It is only the vision that can be new; but that is enough.
– Eudora Welty, “Place in Fiction”
Say what you will about New Jersey: beauty abounds.
It has taken me nearly three years to see it, but now that I have eyes, I see it everywhere. Part of it, of course, is the seduction of an east coast autumn, that mythical season I grew up learning about from my mother, a California girl who spent four falls staring up at the treetops, wide-eyed, as she walked to and from classes at Vassar (followed by four winters blow-drying her waist-length hair so it wouldn’t freeze whenever she stepped outside).
New Jersey, of course, is not New York. New Jersey, in fact, is the very opposite of New York, as any New Yorker will be the first to tell you.
Still, whenever fall descends each year, it graces New Jersey with a rare and unexpected glamor that manages to surprise me every time. The leaves on the trees transform so rapidly, fierce and brazen in their new and changing colors, that, for a brief time each year, it looks as if the world this side of the Hudson will burst into flame at any moment.
The days take on an oddly apocalyptic feel and, as if in response, my heart takes on a new and sudden greed. Continue reading