So when I reached my prime,
I left my home in the Maritimes,
And headed down the turnpike for New England,
... Sweet New England,
Paul Simon, Duncan, 1972
With so many people to meet and new things to try at UNH it didn't really register with me that I now lived in another part of the country. High summer in New Hampshire did not feel very different from high summer in New Jersey.
Realization slapped me full in the face one day in early October as I was riding my bike through town. I was running a bit late and thinking about schoolwork when I rode through the season's first cloud of wood smoke. I didn't see it coming, but suddenly my nostrils were filled with the pungent aroma of burning hardwood. It was as if a window had been thrown open. I realized that my skin was was being massaged by fingers of cooling air. My eyes were awed with the bursting colors of the changing leaves. I stopped peddling and coasted through the middle of Durham with my senses alight. I felt the age of the town, with two hundred year-old buildings slouching toward the meandering street. I felt the leaves year reaching its crescendo before hibernation, and I felt myself connected to each part of it.
Somehow living in New England made me feel more alive than I ever had before.