Football season starts today! In celebration--and also thanks to Labor Day--I'm in the midst of a four-day weekend. By the way, how long does a weekend have to be before it stops becoming a weekend? I mean, if I took Tuesday off as well, would that be a five-day weekend? At some point, don't you just have to say you took a week off?
Football doesn't signal the beginning of Fall, but serves more as a harbinger of it. Summer is slowly tiring. The weather is still hot, but the days are growing shorter. Today, we'll be in shorts and short sleeves. But soon, we'll be in jeans and long sleeves, the familiar autumn chill evoking thoughts and memories and feelings as only it can.
Today the population of Tuscaloosa will swell from 80,000 to 180,000 or more. People will arrive hours before kickoff. Some arrived days in advance. The streets will be buzzing with activity, the campus redolent with the smell of barbecue and burgers.
The stadium will be packed in anticipation not just of a new season, but of a new coach and a new era, hopefully one that awakens feelings and memories of an earlier time.
They'll strike up the band and the players will run onto the field, a sea of crimson spreading across the lush green. Both occurrences will elicit cheers from the crowd while at the same time bringing chill bumps to many in attendance.
There will be sons and daughters attending their very first game, and others who haven't missed a game in years. They'll sit next to each other, young and young at heart, decked out in their crimson, gray, and white, donning their houndstooth caps.
But all will share the same burning hope and desire. To watch the Tide roll on a Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa.
"Well, there's a football in the air, across a leaf blown field. Yeah, and there's your first car on the road, and the girl you'd steal..."