Around here, fall is a season of extremes. It starts with the hillsides going up in flames of red, orange and yellow. And it ends with them the color of cinders, as if they had burned themselves out. Vermonters call this phase of fall “stick season,” because all you see is sticks—no leaves, no snow, no green, red, yellow, orange or white. Just sticks.
“Sere” is an Old English word I love. It means parched, wizened, dry. That\’s Vermont right now—sere, not for lack of rain, but for lack of color. It\’s the monochromatic time. Everything is in tones of gray and beige—the sky, the trees, the hills.
As you drive down the country roads all sorts of things that were once hidden behind the greenery are revealed: old barns, new houses, mares with their half-grown colts, strange-looking cows, and, everywhere, wood piles.
Around four thirty, through the silhouettes of the leafless trees, you can see the sunset blaze.
It\’s not really cold yet. But we know it soon will be, so we get out the winter clothes. The roads are clear, but we know they soon won\’t be, so a last frenzy of social activity breaks out, “while we don\’t have to worry about getting there.” It\’s the time of fire-hall game dinners.
I should bring in those green pumpkins I left to ripen in the last warmth of the autumn sun, before a truly hard freeze turns them to mush.