I

t may not feel like it now, but fall is just around the corner.

The sun rises later and sets earlier each night.

Football games, from high school to professional league, are already in gear for opening day.

Before you know it, the wind will feel crisp and alive as it blows fallen leaves around your back yard.

I can almost smell the fresh cinnamon doughnuts and taste the crisp apple cider from my hometown in New York.

My Family and I used to travel to Van Riper’s Farm in northern New Jersey and look at all the Halloween decorations. Pumpkins of all sizes and shapes sat on haystacks, painted with comical and scary faces. Gourds and Indian corn were hung around the buildings on the farm. People from all over the region were eating doughnuts and drinking cider, enjoying the cooler weather.

Some weekends we would drive up to New England and see the fall foliage. I remember seeing the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire with vivid red and orange maples, yellow beeches, and fiery-red oaks touching the bright blue sky.

In our neighborhood, leaf piles were raked high for children to jump and scatter about. My father would re-rake the leaves so everyone would get a turn diving into the pile. We even had our own ‘parade’ where my friends and I taped leaves all over my younger brother so he could be ‘Mr. Fall.’ The neighborhood children would march up and down the block behind him, pretending to be a marching band.

Halloween costumes were the hot topic in school from mid September until Oct. 31. One year, my mother and older brother designed my prize-winning costume — the Statue of Liberty. Mom dyed a sweatshirt, sheets and a wig copper green while my brother constructed Lady Liberty’s crown and torch from cardboard and a flashlight. On Halloween night, I stood on a stage downtown with many other children, waiting to be judged. The judges pointed for a few of us to come forward where each winner was given a silver dollar.

I still have that coin.

I haven’t been to New York and New England for years. Luckily, only a few hours to the west of Fayetteville, I can still see a gorgeous medley of colors when the leaves in the Appalachian mountains turn from bright greens to golden yellows, flaming oranges and rich reds of autumn.

I can smell that hot apple cider again.