Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Last Fall

The great storyteller Rudyard Kipling, who lived in southern Vermont for a time, penned some lovely words about the transformation of a Vermont fall: 

"A little maple began it, flaming blood-red of a sudden where he stood against the dark green of a pine-belt. Next morning there was an answering signal from the swamp where the sumacs grow. Three days later, the hill-sides as fast as the eye could range were afire, and the roads paved, with crimson and gold. Then a wet wind blew, and ruined all the uniforms of that gorgeous army; and the oaks, who had held themselves in reserve, buckled on their dull and bronzed cuirasses and stood it out stiffly to the last blown leaf, till nothing remained but pencil-shadings of bare boughs, and one could see into the most private heart of the woods." Rudyard Kipling, Letters of Travel (1892–1920).

Whitingham, VT, birthplace of Brigham Young

This, and more, will be what I look back on about living here in the Upper Valley. Fall here is perfection. This final year in northern New England has brought us down to our lasts: our last beach trip to Maine, our last blueberry picking in Lyme, and now our last fall harvest season surrounded by high-definition warm-colored leaves shimmering across the mountainsides and trickling through the river valley.

Baker Library, Dartmouth campus

Billings Farm, Woodstock, VT

Fire Station in Grafton, VT

Killdeer Farm, Norwich, VT

view of Hartford, VT and into New Hampshire

But has this been our final Fall? Returning as a leaf peeper doesn't feel right. Not too long ago on a family drive through the back roads, Boy and I sat stunned at the charming and unpretentious scene in front of us. There were leaves that sparkled as they fluttered on the tops of trees. There were dairy cows roaming on pastures of grass that were at least seven different gradients of green. There were wise old barns that stood tall and strong despite worn doors and peeling paint. Covered bridges, meandering rivers, jaunty farm stands, and white steepled churches. We looked at each other and asked, "Why are we leaving?" It was then that we made a solemn pinky swear that we'd return in retirement or after our brood of kids leave the nest. So perhaps this won't be our last. Until the golden years are upon us, that question will linger around for now.

Colors are not around for very long. And it breaks my heart to leave this wonderful place filled with wonderful people. Farewell, Fall of my dreams. For now.

"Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay." Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," New Hampshire, 1923.