There is a mist around the tops of the mountains in the mornings now. The cold air is here and the sun has yet to burn off the thick curly wisps the night left behind. Trapped between the mountains the sun has to climb much higher before these little clouds can melt away. The tops of the mountains are hidden in their own little soft puffy clouds. Just below the mist you can see the bright reds and oranges which have begun to roll down our way. The color comes down at us in waves of red and yellow, orange and gold. Punctuating it all is the dark green of all those piney woods dotting the sides of our Green Mountains giving them their name. We live in a sweet valley surrounded on all sides by these high old green hills. And this time of year there is nowhere better. As the sun climbs higher in the morning sky the late September yellow sunlight glances off the rivers and lakes making the colorful leaves and trees seem almost to glow,
Realtors are busier than ever. The leaf peeping tourists are here and they are imagining new lives in this old place. Some of them will do it too. We did. They will cash in what’s left of their 401Ks and buy a crooked charming house built around the late 1700s or early 1800s. They will romanticize the wavy glass in those adorable windows and think only of the evenings around the fire and stoking the kitchen woodstove in the mornings. Nature seems cozy up here in a season when all the hurricanes happen somewhere else. In a Vermont autumn, the long cold winter can scarcely be imagined.
There is no beauty like autumn in Vermont. This is what God had in mind when this all got invented. The sunlight is clear and our whole world is bathed in its warm buttery glow. Early autumn sunlight is warm and it enhances the color of the leaves which in turn bounce it back onto everything else. The leaves act as little colorful filters and all these old white New England clapboard houses are the perfect backdrop with the woodsy colors warming and softening every village. The mornings and evenings are gentle. Late summer gardens are throwing off one last burst of color and every porch is dotted with pumpkins and mums.
But by mid afternoon when the sun is high in the sky it is a bawdy burlesque show around here as Vermont lifts her skirts and the enormous rolling sheets of color that were quiet mountains just last week, now seem loud and almost too gorgeous to take in all at once. The roads are clogged with cars whose drivers have pulled over to snap pictures. The farmers set up stands at turns in the roads where the views open up and you are surrounded by this luscious color rising high into the sky. They sell apple cider and maple pickles, homemade bread and giant hunks of cheddar and folks pull over climb out and sit in their trunks. They are mostly quiet as they soak up the beauty and feel the almost spiritual power of this land.
Moving here has forever changed our lives in so many ways. It has been both harder and lovelier than I ever imagined it might be. This morning as the mist floats around I can almost reach out and touch some from my balcony. The maples around the house cause our windows to look lit from without. On this day living here where life feels older, I am grateful. Like the tourists by the side of the road I will sit quietly at the river and drink my coffee with this man who is the partner of my days. We will soak up this beauty and hope it carries us along a little longer. This is a moment of grace and beauty. I hope I have learned the lessons of Vermont. There will always be struggles and rewards. Autumn is so tantalizing here because we are about to have winter. Vermont reminds each of us to take the long view……