So many people who live in Vermont came here during some memorable autumn, when the wind blew and gorgeous red and orange leaves fluttered to the ground where they were standing. For a few weeks every year Vermont is not merely one of the most beautiful spots on earth it is the most beautiful spot. The beauty can take your breath away and make you want to leave behind your old life for a new one here in these old mountains. October is the time of the great annual burlesque show when Vermont lifts her skirts and the riot of color rolls down the mountains filling the valleys and all of the points in between with the glorious purples, reds and oranges of fall. It happens every year of course. The crisp cool mornings give way to sunshiny days and chilly nights and the landscape blazes with color. Wandering through any village there is the smell of woodsmoke in the air and pumpkins are piled high next to cornstalks on every porch. We have an abundance of hydrangea up here too of every possible color and variety. So tucked into all that corn are fading hydrangeas and bittersweet. We are pretty postcards come to life in the North Country come October.
Naturally all Octobers are not created equal. Sometimes the color comes and stays for a while. The leaf peeping tourists run up every weekend and around every corner are cars pulled over photographing the haystacks rolled in fields with the backdrop of a bright glowing mountain. The color and cows get all the attention but it is the soft gentle light that everyone remembers. There is a soft orangery glow that colors everything. For a little while every October our house looks like it has been dipped in honey. Slashes of this otherworldly orange light crisscross the floors and even the soft old faded chairs in the library seem lit from within. Our meadow glows as if somebody drizzled it out of the same giant honey jar. The light feels like a blessing. Some years.
Other years the color comes later. Or a giant nor’easter blows in and takes all the leaves in one big puff. One day we have leaf peeping tourists with maple lollipops in their hands and the next day their cars are all headed in the other direction. And every once in a while you get a year like this one. The color came all right. The mountains are blazing. Peak color is just around the corner. Or maybe it was yesterday. It’s been hard to tell this year because after a long draught the rains came back. And stayed. They are still here. The days have been dreary and foggy. Clouds around the mountains obscure the view. The heavy slate sky feels close and lets almost no light through, nevermind the honey glow of years gone by. The rivers and streams look like molten silver. And everybody caught cold and seemingly all on exactly the same day.
But this October too has a beauty of its own. All these red and orange leaves against a backdrop of mist and fog. Little rain clouds hang low between the mountains and leaves still swirl through the soggy air. Think of a rainy Ansel Adams with a little chalky color. There is woodsmoke in the air too. It curls out of chimneys and dances into the mist. We’ve all taken to our houses with robes and slippers and cups of steaming tea. This has not been a year to haul the old quilt out onto the grass and lay holding hands in the bright sunshine while the leaves dance and twirl their way toward us. But it has been a year of climbing into the hottub up on the balcony in between the rains. Yesterday John and I did just that. And as we lay our heads back to steam and soak up all the color around us a flock of geese flew overhead honking and chatting at the beginning of their journey down south. Those geese know that rain or shine the time is now. They don’t let a little thing like rain stop them. And they flew straight and true the same way they do every year. They were a reminder. Their determined flight seemed to say ‘hey, you take the October you get’. Because even in the rain the blurry outlines of these old mountains are still lovely. And how lucky to have a cheery fire and a warm place to sit and consider the color. As I watched the little flock flew away into the mist. I felt like we’d been given a blessing. This is the October we’ve gotten. It turns out that it is enough. In fact it is plenty.