Column, Looking Back

Going from summer to fall

By Mary Ellen Shaw

It won’t be long before fall is in the air! It’s been a very hot summer compared to the weather we used to have many years ago. I don’t remember one house on our street having an air conditioner when I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s.

Everyone had their windows wide open to let in the fresh air with its accompanying breezes. These days it’s rare to see a house that doesn’t have an air conditioner in the window or heat pumps attached to the exterior of the house. The climate has definitely changed and keeping cool has become as important to Vermonters as keeping warm.

Most of us living in Vermont welcome the change of seasons or we wouldn’t live here. When summer is replaced by fall both our gardens and houses take on an entirely different look! Decorating for autumn can be as much fun as decorating for Christmas. I love visiting the craft stores and seeing them filled with autumn wreaths, garlands, bales of hay and scarecrows.

At our house the change to fall has begun. It started when I put up garlands of orange, red and yellow leaves on our cedar “board-on-board” fence that stretches across our 50-foot-a-side yard. A wreath with the same colors was placed in the middle of the fence on the gate.

Next came the change from floral wreaths to autumn leaves on both the front and side doors. It’s beginning to look like fall!

It’s a little early for corn stalks and pumpkins but they will both have a prominent place outside soon. It’s fun to visit a local farm to select these items. The posts of a split rail fence will hold the cornstalks with a scarecrow in the middle. The pumpkins will go on the front steps and to be on the safe side they will be brought inside at night. They look much prettier on the steps than smashed in the street and unfortunately that would probably happen!

Flowers need to be representative of the season also. The impatiens and geraniums in our window box and containers look a little tired at this time of year. I am never one to just toss flowers into the compost pile while there is still some life in them. So, I moved those flowers into the garden areas. They were replaced by mums that will last until mid-October. Be prepared to cover your plants if you want them to last as long as possible.

For me, decorating the inside of the house for autumn is as much fun as decorating the outside. I recently put up a bittersweet garland (fake but very realistic!) with lights on our mantle and added some small scarecrows and artificial pumpkins. The living room now has a touch of fall. There is something about little white lights that make a room feel warm and cozy. An added bonus is that they are very inexpensive. On dark, dreary days the lights are a welcome sight. Another pleasurable addition is a candle with an apple or pumpkin scent.

It’s also the time of year to remind ourselves that people travel here to look at our beautiful foliage. We Vermonters probably don’t take the time to ride around and enjoy what is in our own backyard. The back roads allow us to enjoy the scenery at a slower pace. That will be on my to-do list in October.

You may not want summer to end but it will anyway so why not brighten up the shorter days with a colorful autumn wreath on your front door and a mum plant on your steps? If you want to decorate even more, go for it! Everyone who passes by will enjoy the results of your autumn enthusiasm.

Happy decorating and enjoy traveling those back roads!

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