I love the fall.
It is a perfect bridge between summer and winter. Balmy September days turn to brisk, windy September nights. The familiar sound of the yellow school buses echo down every city and village side street, as the area's children, all tanned, energized, and fresh from three months of vacation, head off to school.
As October approaches, the clouds become both more ominous and more beautiful. The days follow the night's lead and begin to cool.
The leaves take notice. They begin to transform from the vibrant, sturdy golden greens which so boldly defined summer to the falling, frail, brilliant maroons, oranges, ambers, and yellows.
Summer air contains a haze, which, on even a moderate day, can fill the lungs in a way that can make one feel unpleasant: restriction, fear, age, and death.
Autumn air is pure. It's the fish tank with the bad owner, who neglected the filter, having the water changed and the filter renewed. Or the lung transplant for a 50-year old who had been smoking for the past 40 years.
Of course, with fall, comes football.
An American pastime for the new millennium, it makes sense that football has a significant presence in autumn. Played in backyards, streets, open fields and stadiums across the country, football defines an American fall weekend.
Autumn is a time for dreamers. Clouds form castles in the sky, foliage creates bold, picturesque landscapes, and it all leaves one feeling lovely and whimsical.
Football, with its big-play capability and high number-count appeals to those who love excitement and big scoring. The complex playbooks and schematics for those who love analysis and number crunching. And it's an overall easy-to-understand concept: a game with a similar mystical appeal for everyone.
It is hard to find an American male who doesn't have a fond football memory. Be it leaving the house early to get to the elementary school parking lot half an hour early for a daily morning pickup game, having a friend willing to teach them how to throw a spiral the "right way," being good enough to never worry about being picked last in gym class, breaking an ankle coming down from an attempt to catch a ball thrown by your best friend, dying your hair team colors and playing in the marching band, or scraping up enough money out of the budget every year to purchase those season tickets and enjoying eight days a year of screaming your heads off with friends.
There is always a memory both relatable and fondly recalled.
And, of course, there are the family memories. The days of sitting around the television together, participating in the weekend ritual, cheering for the hometown team, learning the game from your dad, and finally locating that same deep-blooded passion your parents have for the game and letting it all out.
Or, more simply, there are the cherished memories of a father teaching you not just what a post route is, but what a father and a role model is. Not every dad would have come out at night to play with his son after working 10 hours or more every day in an incredibly stressful, high-profile job. But one dad did, and there aren't enough ways to thank him, or to tell him how lucky I am.
These are all my fall memories, and its just one of the many reasons I have learned to appreciate the season. I'm sure, as some of you read this article, you now realize you may have taken part in one of these memories with me.
If so, I want to thank you for sharing in a special part of my life. If you haven't participated until now, I thank you for sharing with me right now, and hopefully recalling a memory or two of yours as well.
Yes, my friends, its early October in Buffalo. A time for football, blankets, cider, and storytelling. The leaves haven't peaked, the kids haven't gone trick-or-treating, and a snowflake has yet to fall. There is still a lot of fall left.