Friday, October 30, 2020

Photo of the Day: Autumn in Earnest: Petruska Park, Paramus NJ

It seemed that that only two weeks ago, fall was taking its time getting here in the Northeast. But these days, turn around and the seasons change suddenly.

And so it was this past weekend that I became fully aware that autumn had arrived. The realization came full force this past Sunday while I was walking around Michael Petruska Jr. Memorial Park in Paramus, several miles from where I live in Bergen County, NJ.

I came upon this stretch of green by accident, while trying to get somewhere else. Farview Avenue, where it is located, would, in many other communities, seem quite busy.

But in the borough of Paramus, with a well-earned reputation as the mall capital of the United States, this stretch of green feels like an island of stillness and serenity, a far remove from traffic-clogged Routes 4 and 17. For me, a Bergen County resident for virtually my whole life, it was a delight to come upon something I had never encountered before.

In 1958, North Jersey-based developer Michael J. Petruska Sr. deeded 12 acres to Paramus with the only condition being that the land be named for his son, who had died in a tragic plane crash. In the mid-Sixties, the park came to fruition when borough volunteers responded to a nationwide beautification contest sponsored by Lady Bird Johnson through a 24-hour “plant-a-thon” on the property.

When I came to the park in mid-afternoon, the skies were overcast, with temperatures having fallen to a high of 52 degrees Fahrenheit—a more than 20-degree drop from the prior day. Jackets, sweatshirts and hoodies had become a requirement overnight.

On the courts, two teams were playing on the basketball court and two guys were wielding hockey sticks—though, by this point in the year, the baseball field was empty. On the nearby path circling the park, several parents were out with their children. Social distancing was easier to maintain with the mercury having dropped.

As I circled the park I took many pictures, but I was especially drawn to this scene. Though a good many orange, yellow and red leaves stayed in place, others had meekly surrendered, leaving their trees bare.

I imagine, after several more days of rain, wind and further temperature drops, that Indian summer has now beaten a full-fledged retreat. These days more than ever, when I relish the chance to walk around, autumn has never seemed so beautiful and brief.

No comments: