News from Vermont #273 - Limbo Season
October 17th, 2012
Hello again Maple People,
Even though I've lived through over sixty years of foliage seasons, each one gets better than the one before! The other evening I was watching TV in our living room when suddenly a patch of foliage in our view out front became downright ethereal. I sprang to the window and in an otherwise drab scene, the last remnants of sun directed a "spotlight" right on this one section of our woods! I grabbed my camera and shot away...yes, here I live in the epicenter of Autumn splendor but I'd never seen it like this before. Being in the tourism business, I have to be righteous about Vermont foliage, our crème de crème of marketing opportunities. It's not just "business as usual" though; I love foliage season in every spectacular respect!
Foliage coincides with another season though, much less glamorous but never-the-less real...I'll call it "limbo" season. It has to do with human comfort or more to the point, discomfort. I'm talkin' about the time of year when we've had a pleasant summer respite from thoughts of expensive fuel oil or plugged chimneys when WHAM!...all of a sudden the first cold night strikes. Like the proverbial "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink" Betsy and I sit in a stone cold house with a full tank of fuel oil and a woodshed brimming over. You see, we're too Scotch to start up the oil burner and burning wood doesn't work well until winter temperatures set in.
I recently suffered through one such night. Betsy had gone to her night job and I had prepared for bed my usual obsessive-compulsive way...au naturale except for skivvies, one medium weight blanket, no top sheet, and a very thin pillow, thank you very much...but I was cold! I got up, shivering, and started searching for Betsy's cache of blankets."It's a small house...they gotta be here", I thought, starting with the most obvious places and ending up in the darkest closet recesses. Spare blankets, however, like drinking water in the ocean, were not meant to be that night. Approaching panic stage, I grabbed all the towels from the linen closet and got in bed, pulling the one blanket over me and then strategically placing towels, in total defiance of physics, I might add, in patchwork fashion over the blanket and myself. All of a sudden it hit me though, my numerous nocturnal trips to the bathroom would declare the "towel" caper null and void!
Next I went to the two black Labs; "C'mere Averill, c'mon Fern" I pleaded, trying to coax the two large dogs to burrow into the blanket with me. They however, much wiser and more climatologically fit, just sat saying "No way...this is our season to enjoy!" My thoughts went to another dog, Tessa. Tessa the beagle was one of my best friends until passing from old age six years ago. More appropriately to this story, however, Tessa was a burrower. We first met her while she was still with her mother. The man who sold her to us said "That pup's a burrower...you'll find her way down in that blanket.". Sure enough, I leaned into the pen and reached deep into a worn quilted comforter to find the warm ball of fur that would be my Tessa. She never outgrew her compulsion. My thirteen-year tenure with Tessa was spent, besides packed with love, never lacking for a bed warmer on a cold night. Thinking of Tessa, I looked at those two black Labs and said "ungrateful bitches"!
Yes, we Vermonters never lack for variety in our seasons. As I end this writing, we're approaching our beloved foliage's dénouement (the best we've had in years, I might add). Limbo season, however, will remain for a while as the tree line declines to a drab, grey "curtain". One of these days, that curtain will open to winter's grand show and I'll be in the audience. By that time, the wood fire'll be burnin' fast and, best of all, our house'll be warm!