This year, signs of fall started appearing in our part of Vermont around early September: splashes of colored leaves in the trees, the apple orchard open for business, the grocery store’s Back-to-School display gradually giving way to Halloween. The sunlight turned a deeper gold, and the nights became crisp enough to sleep under the comforter. As the month wore on, squirrels and chipmunks got busy in our yard laying aside acorns for the winter – and driving our dog to fits of frenzied barking at the windows. Channeling my own inner chipmunk, I started baking like a maniac.
The last week of September was glorious: the mountaintops were red-orange, and driving home each afternoon I felt like I was living inside a scenic Vermont calendar. Tour buses full of “leaf peepers” pulled into town; tour groups of fluorescent-spandexed bikers made driving backcountry roads an exercise in caution. The foliage wasn’t quite at its peak, but clearly we were in for some spectacular color over the next couple of weeks.
On October 2, I woke up and noticed that there were leaves covering the ground.
[Cue sound effect: brakes squealing as my fall euphoria turned to realism]. Oh, right…RAKING.