October 8, 2017Hello again Maple People,Recently Betsy and I took a pre-foliage season day trip to Bethel, Maine. It was a glorious morning when we headed east across the gravel roads of East Montpelier toward the famous US Rt 2. We knew it wouldn’t be long before an onslaught of leaf peepers would be traveling this same route and stopping at our sugarhouse. As we made our way east, we remarked on how much color there already was in the distant hills. “Every year brings surprises”, I remarked to Betsy, thinking of the year we had four inches of sticky snow on October third. “Hope this kind of weather’s a good omen for our season ahead.”, I said. In fact we have inquiries every year from all over the world about the perfect time to view foliage…the most practical response is always a curt Vermont “Can’t say”.
How’s this for a fall morning on the farm!And speaking of real Vermont, as we passed through St Johnsbury and into the legendary “Northeast Kingdom”, Betsy remarked about a certain particularity: way out in that barren countryside, we went past one sprawling storage unit after another. She commented on Americans’ need to accumulate. “Who woulda thought”, she said “that we’d be seeing these things way out here.”. America’s need to “accumulate” spoke volumes as we passed all these aluminum structures gleaming in the morning sun.This takes me back to when I was a young boy walking my country route to and from school. On that route, we’d pass an old weathered farmhouse. It was surrounded by rusted farm machinery and general farm clutter. Rotting hay bales were left year-round to bank its drafty sills and just above the bales, an aged dweller would occasionally peer out at us through dust-covered windows. We peered in through those same windows and were amazed at the clutter. Most prominent were stacks upon stacks of old newspapers, seemingly being used to hold the whole house from falling down…word was, they kept every newspaper they ever read and they still had their “first nichol!”.Although that old house was definitely a fire trap, it never did burn. Those folks eventually passed away and their house was torn down and replaced by a perfectly manicured suburban home. Every time I go past it these days, however, I think of those pillars of newsprint and can almost see ghosts peering out around them.Yes, things have surely changed in my lifetime…used to be folks would save for the future, both money and material. Now, it seems, our world runs more on credit and clutter. Oh well, one thing that hasn’t changed is the unpredictability of nature, made so obvious on our early September drive east into Autumn’s splendor.