New England owns Autumn.
Sure we have beaches that you can enjoy in the summer, and mountains to ski in the winter, but that’s not unique to New England. A lot of places around the world have those types of things. Spring time isn’t anything to get excited about in this neck of the woods either, because with it comes mud, rain and swarms of black flies that make it almost impossible to do anything outdoors, so you’re better off somewhere else during this time of year. Like Paris. I’ve heard it’s nice there in the spring.
But Autumn is ours.
There is no better place to be on earth than New England during autumn. Just thinking about it conjures up images of quaint villages nestled in a peaceful valleys, surrounded by mountains and hills bursting with color. People come from all over to see the natural splendor of the fall foliage every year, and I have to say that having spent more than 50 years living here, I am still always amazed at how beautiful it is. I am truly blessed to call New England my home.
During the fall, it’s late September through early October that are the most beautiful. It’s at this time the colors will be at their peak before they begin to fall off the trees. Because the temperatures have not grown too cold, folks are able to spend the days outside enjoying the wonderful display that nature provides.
Sometimes, there will be a warm, sunny day that has cloudless skies and sunshine so bright, it makes the colors in the mountains look almost surreal. These days are the best one can hope for to really appreciate what New England has to offer in the fall, and 30 years ago I was blessed with a day just like this.
It was a perfect day.
No wind, fair temperatures, and not a cloud in sight. The sun was so bright that it seemed like it was shining just for me. The autumn colors were at their peak, which was a bit early for the last day of September, but not all that uncommon. Still I couldn’t help but think that maybe Mother Nature had added the color just to make this day even more enjoyable.
You would never want to spend any part of a day like this inside, and you would definitely think that being in a church would be the last place anyone would want to be on a day like this. But that’s exactly where I was that day, and at this moment, there was nowhere else I would have rather been.
I was standing at the altar, in a rented tuxedo that didn’t fit quite right, shaking a little and sweating more than I should have been. My best friends were there with me and the church was filled with all the people I loved, but despite all of the support I had, I was nervous as hell, and I was riddled with doubt.
Was I too young to do this?
Were people right to say that I wasn’t the type to settle down?
Was she too young to do this?
Were the people who said we wouldn’t last correct?
My doubts were slowly turning into panic, then I saw her, and all my fears vanished in an instant.
I stood there, weak in the knees, heart pounding out of my chest, staring at the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life.
Her wedding gown was the purest white you could imagine, and it and it made her look angelic as the sunlight fell on her through the stained glass windows. Her lovely brown hair looked perfect beneath the white veil that she wore, and she moved with the grace and elegance that would rival any lady of royalty or nobility. In fact the most beautiful princess, from the most romantic fairy tale ever told, could not have been more stunning than she was that day.
As she came up beside me and I lifted her veil, I cannot recall in my life ever seeing eyes as lovely as hers that day. I mean, I always thought they were pretty, but today they were more gorgeous than ever.
To this day I swear my heart stopped in that moment, only to start again when I saw her smile at me, reassuring me that everything was going to be alright. I was no longer nervous, in fact for the very first time in my life I believed my future was going to be wonderful.
I can honestly say I don’t remember much of the ceremony. I was too transfixed on how beautiful she was, and too excited about the fact that she was going to be my wife. I really didn’t pay attention, and despite it being a long, formal Catholic wedding, it seemed to fly by as I was lost in the moment, and her beauty.
After the ceremony we stepped out of the church into the most beautiful autumn afternoon a person could imagine. The greatest artist ever known could not have painted a more perfect day.
I found it difficult to take my eyes off her, while we were outside in the reception line and when we got to the wedding reception after. We had to make time to mingle and thank the guests, and as I made my way around the room, I would look at her from a distance and marvel at the fact that such an amazing woman would agree to marry a guy like me.
30 years have gone by and I remember this like it was yesterday. The memory stays with me and when I close my eyes and focus on it, my heart starts to beat the way it did that day.
I have served in two wars, been to some of the most ugliest places in the world and experienced some dark moments that could crush the spirit of many men. But anytime I found myself surrounded by darkness, I simply call on the memory of that day, and my heart fills with happiness…
That perfect day in September, when the most wonderful woman on the face of the earth allowed me to be her husband.