Scarlet and Gold

On my way to pick up my daughter from soccer practice, I leave early and take a walk behind the community gardens, where the wildness of Woodbury Mountain meets the edge of town.

All day, rain has drenched us, and the scent of broken leaf and dogshit and the hummusy, earthy fragrance of wet soil mixes. There’s no one here, in the woods where I’m sheltered somewhat from the downpour, walking among the giant pieces of granite — debris from the town’s former claim-to-fame industry — among the brushy goldenrod, asters, and burdock.

The thing about Vermont foliage — every year — is that I expect the season to be done, finished, dulled to gray, over, and suddenly the red appears. Silently, stunning, often brought out in its finest with a cold rain.

Every year, it’s the same nostalgic sensation — I’m a third-grader again, walking home from school, scuffling through knee-high piles of leaves, happy to be free from the classroom and play outside all afternoon. Every year, the season change is tinged with sadness at the passing of time, and yet, silently, fiercely, beautiful.

In a handful of seasons,
water and cold and dirt

get under the paint and it falls
from our houses like old bark.

— Kerrin McCadden


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