Column, Living the Dream

The leaves fall, the air thins creating crispness

By Merisa Sherman

It’s been bugging me for almost a week, maybe even two. The plant border that I built during Covid has been slowly changing during that time, my beloved black mulch becoming almost buried. I had, of course, built this south facing border at the edge of a forest lined with deciduous trees, which means that with even the slightest brush of cold air or a strong storm, autumn comes early.

That’s right. Brown, dead leaves are falling from the trees and landing on my flower bed and beginning to cover up the section of lawn. I hadn’t quite realized that it was fall. In fact, I barely even remember it being summer, but there were enough leaves that I now could probably … ugh, I hate to even say it … get the rake out.

But wait, when I broke my arm last year, I was gifted with the smallest leaf blower. It’s kind of like getting a blender for your anniversary, but it’s not at all because of “power tools.” And as much as I absolutely love the workout you get from raking and the meditative experience of the repetitive motion, who cannot help but love power tools? Instead of sweating under the hot sun, I simply lean back and let my gas powered little baby do all the work. There’s nothing like blowing wind up the skirts of your hostas.

As alluring as the leaf blower sounds, I only use it to traumatize the plants before I switch back to raking the lawn. I hate the leaves blowing every which way and the attempt to impersonate a storm. Plus, one slight lack of attention on the blower and the leaves are blowing around in a completely different direction than you had intended. Instead of a quick blast, now you’re chasing leaves all over the place like a kid catching a kite. It’s fun but completely unproductive.

I look down at the barrage of leaves surrounding me and start to wonder why I am doing this already. Fall isn’t for … oh, it’s in 10 days. That’s crazy. No wonder the humidity has suddenly vanished and I want to climb mountains and sit outside all day. It’s simply glorious out here, with the slight fall breeze.

The air is changing, you can smell the crispness as you inhale. It’s thinner and you can move through it easier, feeling light and so much more alive.

There was a meme on social media that asks which of the four seasons is your least favorite, or which seasons could you do without. And surprisingly, my first thought was “well, definitely not fall” which is weird because um, obviously winter is the best. But I absolutely love fall. Autumn. Foliage season. Sweater season. Flannel season. Harvest. Hunting season. It’s like the sluggishness of summer is cast off and everything seems alive again even if it’s only to prepare for the upcoming winter.

Yes, fall means flannels and hard work, meaning that it’s cool enough to make sure there is enough wood stacked and that the garden beds are tidy. And you have to move all the perennials around to make sure they will all be in the right places for next spring. There’s this bunch of daffodils that I have to separate because they are in the wrong place and just bothering me.

It sounds like chores, but they’re not at all. I love taking care of my little piece of Vermont. I want my land to know that it’s the most loved little piece of Vermont there is. And so I feel just a little bit guilty as I text my friends, knowing that I am going hiking and enjoying a different little piece of Vermont. I feel pulled in two directions — nurturing my own land and celebrating all the lands that surround us. It’s an amazing problem to have.

I don’t want to miss a single leaf, as I watch some reds start to pop as we paddle along the ponds, cycle through the valleys and hike up the mountains.

Even Mother Nature seems to be getting excited about fall this year. Or maybe it was because the cold set in so quickly, the briskness absent one day and then here the next. Either way, the sky is so clear at night you can see the stars filling the sky, the moon is bright over Pico during the day and it’s time to start thinking about snow … Woah. OK, way too early to start thinking about snow, but maybe it’s not too early to start thinking about how much fun it will be to ski down the fast grass littered with frozen leaves?

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