Nothing really says “autumn in New England” quite like this picture, shot in Centre Harbor, New Hampshire over the weekend. This, plus 33 other photos can be seen by clicking here, which sums up a beautiful weekend of perfect weather here, spent with both my own and my wife’s family.

The Red Sox entry into the playoffs this year feels different. So many times I’ve heard and read stories about how it will never be the same since the glorious events of last October and how much we Bostonians were “what have you done for me lately” style sports fans. But you know what? I’m with Bill Simmons. It doesn’t matter this year. Shake your head all you want, but you know it’s a different feeling. Sure, we’re invested and excited as we approach Tuesday. Yes, we’ll watch with baited breath and stay up late, fingernails suffering their usual autumn fate. But if they lose (hell, even if they win), nothing touches last year. It’s kinda like Hawaii – I’m now afraid that no matter where I go, it’ll always be compared to Hawaii. That’s probably not fair.

That said, these Red Sox are a much different team than last year. Suddenly I’m wishing we had extended that fourth year to Pedro Martinez. Their pitching is really a shambles. While their hitting is legitimately feared, it’s not hitting that wins World Series and that scares me a little.

Poll question of the week: On the way to New Hampshire this weekend, the IPod spit out REM’s “Texarkana,” a song Steph and I both like quite a bit. I then commented that the band should have had Mike Mills singing lead on more REM songs. Steph said no way (she liked Mills, she just likes Stipe way more). What do you think?