Wednesday, September 12, 2007

October Nostalgia

There's a very slight chill in the air this morning, a front having passed through yesterday and dragged that September heat and humidity out to sea. There's a hint of autumn in the air, and I'm excited - almost giddy - because autumn is my favorite season, particularly October and November before the cold of winter creeps in. Part of October's appeal is simply a matter of temperature. I'm a hot-natured person who doesn't do well with humidity or temperatures above 75 degrees. So the cooler, dryer days of the fall are welcome relief after the late summer humidity that drives New Yorkers mad.

Mind you, there's more to it than just favorable forecasts from the Weather Channel's hotties. (There's nothing hotter than a female weather-geek.) Autumn also prompts so many good memories for me: field days and harvest festivals, football games and drunken tailgate parties, hiking and camping in the mountains around Lexington, Virginia, family reunions, and family trips to Vermont.

In just three weeks our family will drive to Vermont for our annual four-day trek through back roads and small towns. Although we stay in the area around the Killington resorts, we tend to eschew the usual tourist paths, especially the crowded shopping centers and outlet malls that have taken over Manchester. Instead, we look for unpaved roads, easy hiking trails, and for meals, diners. (Brattleboro has a great diner, the "Chelsea Royal," that has been in business since 1939. Bellows Falls has the "Miss Bellows Falls" diner which is now designated as a landmark. I really should do a whole entry on diners, since they're one of my passions.) About the only bow we make to the tourist trade is a trip to the Vermont Country Store in Weston. Sure, it's overrun with tourists thanks to the buses that disgorge their armies of pensioners. But the boys love the experience and my wife and always end up buying winter socks, candy, and other stuff we probably don't need.

This year we're adding a trip to the Scott Farm near Putney. (See my post from Friday, September 7, "Vermont Farm") The farm is known for its heirloom apples and an orchardist will be guiding us through some tastings on October 6th. The boys will get a chance to hang out with the sheep, a llama, and some herding dogs for the day. We're also spending that first night near the farm at a quaint "mom-and-pop" motel at which my wife has stayed during knitting/spinning retreats.

I can't express how much I look forward to this trip each year. It really is one of the high points for me, and I always feel recharged after visiting Vermont. My wife and I always pick up those free real estate catalogs and look longingly at the homes for sale, particularly those that advertise a barn and some acreage - perfect for raising a few sheep? We laugh that we'd move to Vermont if we could find gainful employment. Even my sons have said, "Let's move to Vermont." It's a nice idea, but I think we'd miss New York City too much. (The painting is a quick 5x7" sketch that I did in situ during our October 2005 visit. It's from the beautiful public library in Woodstock, a town most worthy of painting.)


One Wink at a Time said...

You've described this trip so wonderfully that I feel like I went to New England for a bit. Although I've never been to the Vermont Country store, I receive their catalogs and could spend hours poring over their offerings. I love that they have so many things that I remember from my childhood and can't find anywhere else. Especially their candy :-)
Diners rule. There is something about the mood in a diner that you just don't feel anywhere else. Another childhood passion of mine, eating at a diner in our town. I loved to hang my coat on the hooks at the booths and peek over the seats at other diners. I loved the little square ice cubes in the water and watching the waitresses whip up milkshakes in those tall metal cups and pour them into the fluted glasses. They wore uniforms with aprons and clunky comfortable shoes with those attractive (!) hair nets. And I loved to get free mints and cinnamon flavored toothpicks at the cashier's counter. But my favorite thing of all, of course, was having our own personal miniature juke box on the table :-)
Love the painting. The angle, looking up, reminds me of being little and walking up the many, many steps to the entry to our library full of anticipation of what I would find there.

Shimmy said...

In 2002, when Tony and Shelly spent 6 weeks in Vermont, I would not let the cat-sitter touch me.

(And you've been tagged in today's post.)