This morning, seemingly in the blink of an eye, the trees were already bare in my hometown.
Just one week earlier, their branches had been ablaze in contrasting shades of red, yellow and brown. But as Election Day dawned, only streams of toilet paper remained on the tree outside the polling place at the library.
This particular tree had been teepeed in the tradition of Goosey Night (or Mischief Night, if you're not from Passaic County), the night before Halloween. There's no longer any widespread evidence of Goosey Night pranks in litigious 2015, however; just neighborhoods letting their children playfully mark their own property.
Seasons change; times change -- yet inside the library I was greeted by the same group of Election Day volunteers who I see year after year. None were young more than 20 years ago, when I first moved here, but none seem to have aged in the meantime.
It's as if people who volunteer at the polls have somehow managed to suspend time -- the same way the waiting list never seems to winnow at a nearby nursing home where a relative hopes to soon reside. In New Jersey, if you want to live forever, just get your name on the waiting list for Marian Manor.
After voting, I noticed pagan and Christian images competing with each other on a nearby street. An elaborate Halloween lawn display has been set in the shadows of Ascension Church.
This is New Jersey. Nowhere else in America are so many contrasts in such close proximity to each other. My home state is a land where rural, suburban and urban extremes coexist almost side by side. It's also a land of paradox, where everything changes quickly and nothing changes at all.
On Instagram (@bvarnj) and Tumblr, I explore and document my love for the state, and I invite you to follow me there.
Meanwhile, another morning in New Jersey has come and gone. It leaves me hopeful, because I know things can change in an instant here and there's something unexpected around the next corner.
As our poet-laureate sings, "Show a little faith, there's magic in the night."