So, besides writing at Rutgers-Newark, part of the deal with the program is we mostly live here, too. Newark doesn’t always pair well with fine wines, but then again if you give the place a second chance, you’ll find it grows on you.
My second* New Jersey love is with Branch Brook Park.
I first visited Branch Brook Park when I moved to Newark. I rode my bike through the meandering paths, the low hanging trees, and the spectre of the Basilica that cresting the lower half of the park. But I didn’t start clocking serious time in the park until spring, in preparation for a ten miler.
The park has a little of everything. It has dirt paths for the rustics, asphalt for the people who avoid standing water, and the requisite roadside perching places for those who just want to drive up and fish. The park extends about four miles north and south, and although it is pretty narrow, it took me about half a dozen tries before I really knew every path in the park.
I usually go in the mornings, and I’m always surprised by what I find. Many professional cyclists use the park for training and for competition. Little league games are ubiquitous, but they share the space with kite fliers and cricketers. The real treat hits in May, when the Cherry Blossoms bloom. The trees are scattered through the park, and the short month of April fills with multigenerational families taking pictures in the pinks and whites of so many trees. There are festivals, charity races and drumming. As the summer goes on a farmer’s market opens, and another post may be forthcoming about that. Only half a mile from campus, it’s definitely worth the trip.
*My first New Jersey love is unmistakably with the traditional New Jersey diner; let’s be real.