The North Country’s Revenge

Every spring, I desire revenge.

Spring comes to the entire rest of the northern hemisphere before it gets to us, you see.

For months, from February on, I look at your photos of snowdrops, of crocus, of hellebores and daffodils.

I see tiny buds sprouting on your trees and read your descriptions of warm, sweet-smelling breezes. All while my world and any promise of spring are still covered in drifts of snow. I get a little bitter, looking at your spring.

And, by the time spring arrives to me and my snowdrops and daffodils show their pretty faces, people are tired of looking at snowdrops and daffodils and have moved on from the rapture of spring.

It’s not just me—Facebook users and bloggers all over the Northeast know my pain.

But, this is the time of year we get our revenge!

Because we have autumn in the North Country of upstate New York, in the Adirondacks, and all over New England.

We have glorious, perfect autumn here. It comes early and seems to last and last.

We have apples. We have pumpkins. We have mountains and lakes and a sky that is Adirondack blue. Click on the thumbnail photos and drink it in!

 

Or at least the sky is Adirondack blue when it isn’t some moody and evocative shade of autumn.

We have oaks and poplars, and birches and beeches, and ash trees, and their leaves all turn fabulous colors.

But, more important, we have maple trees.

We have maples that turn flaming red and orange. They aren’t satisfied with giving us the gift of sap for maple syrup in the spring. Every fall, the maple trees up the ante on themselves, and they give us glory.

This photo is not the most spectacular but it shows exactly what this part of the world looks like right now. All the ingredients—the colorful foothills of the Adirondacks, the remnants of corn that has been stored as ensilage for cows, the bright trees against an Adirondack blue sky, and the ladder reaching into an apple tree, providing access to that perfect autumn fruit.

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So, in the spring, when you are parading your colors and beauty, I’ll be enjoying them. But, I’ll also be sighing and waiting for mine, in October.

Revenge is sweet.

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I wish I could say I took this photo but it’s by Brendan Wiltse. https://www.facebook.com/brendan.wiltse.photography/

 

 

 

Busy, Busy . . . Happy

Autumn is always this way.

We realize that time’s a’wastin’, that soon we’ll be hunkering down for winter, and we try to pack a lot of living into these perfect days.

Chores abound. The perennials are being cut back. The outdoor furniture needs to be stored.

A quilt is basted, waiting to be finished this winter. The yoyos are almost, almost, sewn together and finished. Two other quilt projects wait in the wings.

The looms are momentarily naked but plans have been planned and one warp has been wound, a yummy wool for fall.

It’s time for chocolate, a new and different venture on Etsy, and, always, vintage linens.

It’s the time for spending quality hours with family snowbirds who are ready to fly away and it’s time for a little travel of our own, to enjoy autumn in New England.

Busy, busy. Happy, happy. And you?

 

Autumn Senses–The Sounds of Canada Geese

geese2I stand on my front deck. I hear a faint sound that confuses me, even as it’s getting louder. It’s the sound of a train coming through.

But the closest train tracks are several miles away . . .

The sound grows louder, gets closer.

It becomes clearer what it is.

That’s no train!

That’s a huge flock of Canada geese, heading our way.

The temps are in the 80s, the leaves are still green, the grass still needs to be mowed.

But it’s autumn. The geese tell me so. They insist.

Dozens, nay, hundreds, of Canada geese visit our bay at this time of year. In November, they’ll give way to snow geese.

The Canada geese are the early harbingers of fall. And they sound really, really excited about it.

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They sit out there in the bay and yak among themselves. They squawk and they chuckle and they chortle. They yip and they yap. They sounds like they’re laughing, and arguing, and announcing important news.

They get quiet and then for no discernible reason, they start in again, all at once, raising a ruckus.

They chat early, early in the morning, well before first light, and they are the last sound I hear before drifting off to sleep.

It not just their voices I hear. When a flock comes in, I can hear the beating of all those wings and the splish as they hit the water.

And when they leave, it’s never a quiet “exit, stage left.” They leave with noise and splashing and flapping and a big huzzah.

It seems they must be communicating; it can’t all be sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I’d love to know what they’re saying. Is the meeting in Monty’s Bay the equivalent of a block party, a meet and greet with neighbors? Or is it more a high school reunion, seeing friends they haven’t seen for years?

Are they talking about how they spent their summer vacation? The sights they saw up north? Or are they planning the upcoming trip, deciding where to stay and where to eat. That’s what we talk about when planning a trip . . .

They sound pretty happy and excited, but sometimes they sound cranky and argumentative. I imagine them arguing over who gets to fly first, out in that big point in the V in the sky.

“It’s my turn! You did it last time!”

“Well, I’m better at it than you! You led us to Kansas. Who wants to got to Kansas?!”

“How come I never get to be in front? I’m tired of looking at your back end!”

“You can’t be in front, you’re a girl!”

“You sexist gander, you!”

They all talk at once, nobody seems to be listening. It’s enough to make a person think of American politics . . . well, never mind.

Autumn in upstate New York smells like campfire. It tastes like a Northern Spy apple and cider doughnuts. It looks like maple trees with leaves aflame.

And it sounds like Canada geese.

What does autumn sound like in your neck of the woods?

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Autumn, Come She Will

Soupy. Steamy. Sweaty. Summer.

It’s all those things right now in upstate New York. Summer blazes on, with little rain and high humidity.

And yet, when I least expect it, when I’m wearing my sun visor and wiping the “dew” off my face, autumn sneaks up on me.

She is quiet, faint, just a hint of a ghost of a wraith but I know she’s there.

She gets close and whispers her cool breath in my ear. I whip my head around, to get a better look, and blush when I find only summer there. I was hoping it was autumn . . .

I’m not the only one autumn makes blush.

Autumn seduces me, energizes me, makes me feel alive. My blood sings and fizzes like champagne when autumn comes to me.

Again, I’m not the only one who is susceptible to her charms; she is profligate with her attentions. She beguiles the geese to start their noisy journey. She provides the nudge that makes the squirrels so intent on hunting and gathering that they forget to look both ways when they cross the road. All living things respond to autumn.

Her invigorating imperative affects people like me, and maybe you, people who live in cooler climates and who love to make things. We feel the impulse to prepare for winter making and to hunker down in our homes.

Because my main locus for taking photos of vintage linens for Etsy is my glassed-in porch and because my glassed-in porch is not winterized and gets REALLY cold in the winter, I will spend autumn busily taking photos, getting things ready while I can.

I also baste quilts at the big table on the glassed-in porch so I will soon be doing this job I loathe so I can do the part I love, hand quilting, all winter.

I want my home to be as clean and fresh as autumn feels. I want the garden to sleep well and come to spring renewed and refreshed. I want to bring the color of the maple trees and late fall sun to handwovens.

Autumn is a demanding mistress, but she’s worth it.

I know she’s coming, autumn is.

I love you, autumn. I’ll be ready for you. Don’t make me wait too long . . .


*This photo makes me think of a wonderful book, C D B!, by William Steig. According to Steig, the full caption for the photo should be “C D B? D B S A BZ B.” Can you crack the code?

Maine in Late October: Good Planning and Good Luck

It could’ve been a disaster, a birthday to remember for all the wrong reasons. A trip to the northeast corner of the United States at the end of October could’ve been all about cold rain (or snow!), gray skies, closed shops and restaurants, and desolate landscapes.

But, through a combination of decent planning and excellent fortune, our trip to Maine turned out to be memorable for all the right reasons.

To me, the most important part of planning is to mine own self be true. We know ourselves well enough to know that crowds (too much people!) and shopping and go-go-go aren’t fun for us. So we planned a trip that matched our temperaments.

We went to Acadia National Park in Maine. The park, mostly situated on Mount Desert Island, is 47,000 acres of granite, mountains, pines and birches, and crashing waves. The park is wild and lovely, with scenic roads to drive but also trails and paths and carriage roads to walk. (You can click on any photo to savor the details!)

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The island shore is mostly rocky—I love a rocky shore better than most anything.

But for those who prefer a sandy beach, the park provides one perfectly perfect Sand Beach.IMG_9405

And Acadia also provides a new candidate for world’s most perfect mountain.

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Cadillac Mountain isn’t that high but it is the tallest mountain within 25 miles of the ocean anywhere in the eastern US. It has a bare peak, with views all around. A winding, thrill-inducing road means one can drive up the mountain but a number of trails also allow climbing.

One of Cadillac Mountain’s claims to fame is that it is the first spot in the US to be touched by the rising sun, and every morning throngs of people gather to watch that sunrise. With our good planning, we had every intention of being on the top of Cadillac for the signature moment but . . . planning isn’t everything. More on this in a moment.

When it comes to accommodations, my husband and I tend to be seat-of-the-pants travelers, trusting that we can find a place to sleep when we find an area that we like well enough to stay. This time we actually planned a little, though, and found ourselves a cottage to rent right on the ocean’s shore. We watched the tide go in and out, we saw the mist from the cold air drift over the warm water, and, each morning, I watched the full moon set, plop, into the water.

That full moon was part of our good fortune. We had no idea! The first night we were in Maine, we drove to the town of Bar Harbor for dinner. We came over a hill and saw the enormous almost-full moon rising over the ocean. We gasped out loud!

And therein changed our plans for watching sunrise on Cadillac Mountain. The full moon was the next night and, instead of going up for sunrise, we drove that twisty, turny road at dusk to watch the sun set on one side of the mountain. Then we turned our backs on the last bit of light from the sun, to see the pink cuticle of the moon beginning to rise on the other.IMG_9314

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Beyond the magic of a full moon over the sea at twilight, we were lucky in other ways. We liked that the touristy town of Bar Harbor was less overrun with people than it is most of the year but it hadn’t occurred to us that this would also mean that most of the restaurants we had targeted wouldn’t be open. MUCH of the area simply closes for the winter! So, we counted ourselves lucky that we still managed to eat reasonably well.

The best of our luck came as a gift from Mother Nature, though. Except for one wicked day, we experienced the best that late autumn could offer. The days started with a crispness that only added to the beauty and drama of the setting and stayed clear and sunny throughout. Many of the trees still had their cloaks of radiant leaves, leaves that glowed against the foil of dark fir trees all around. The ocean and sky burned blue and dazzled. The hot, red foliage of the blueberry bushes contrasted with the cool gray of granite.

Is there a prettier place than the coast of Maine?

I guess you can see, we were pretty pleased with ourselves! We had the good sense to plan to go to a place we could love and the good fortune to find it at its most lovable when we got there!

Autumn as Antidote

IMG_4087A young friend liked Disneyworld. He really did. But at the end of a busy, exciting day, he burst into sobbing tears.

His parents asked him what was wrong. Through his tears, he said, “Too much people, Mommy. Too much people.” That little introvert had had enough.

Yesterday, after three days of work at the quilt guild show, of smiling and meeting and greeting, I knew exactly how he felt.

I enjoyed it. I really did. But, by Sunday night, this little introvert had had enough.

I was drained. Exhausted. It had been busy and exciting, but so many people!

Yesterday was my antidote, to get me back on track, back to quiet and solitude, back to myself.

Autumn was my anodyne.

And we fit all of autumn into one quiet, perfect, healing day.

With piercing bright sunshine, a dancing breeze, and temperatures in the 60s and 70s, it was the most exquisite fall day imaginable. The autumn foliage season was at its peak. We started by taking our annual leaf-peeping drive.

With each sparkling, falling leaf, I could truly feel my shoulders settle down, from their tense, hunched state. Silence was as golden as the leaves. We didn’t talk much, except to exclaim about a particular tree or an extraordinary view.

Want to see some of them? (Sorry there are so many–I had trouble choosing! Click on them to see the shining details of autumn in the Adirondacks!)

When the leaf-peeping tour was complete, we stopped for an apple crumb-top pie at an orchard where people waited in line to take photos of their little children with big pumpkins.

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We went out to lunch, at the spot we knew the beers would be coldest.

Home for a quick nap and then the autumn perfection continued.

A guitar and singing by the lake, the best songs for the last night we will sit here until May.

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Warming drinks and steak on the grill. Family and a perfect campfire.

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A sunset to bring summer and autumn 2015 into perfect harmony.

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Maybe autumn is meant for introverts and that’s why it’s my favorite season. A time when voices can seem a little too loud and we don’t need to say much, just keep our eyes open.

During autumn, I don’t feel a need for lots of people to keep me company—just the most special ones. It’s a time when we’re busy turning inward, making plans for the cocoon of our winter home, and relishing every bright, sunny moment because we know darkness and cold lies ahead.

I know not everyone loves autumn—some see it as a dying season, and feel melancholy. I don’t think I ever feel more alive and energized. After yesterday, I am whole again. I can face people and deadlines and maybe even quilting!

How about you? Are you an autumn-loving introvert?

A is for Abundance

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What does your region have in abundance?

I love where I live, in upstate New York, because of the abundance of water, open and free places, splendid scenic wonders, reminders of America’s history, feelings of nostalgia for my own family roots.

On the other hand, there’s an absolute dearth of shopping opportunities. We have the dollar stores, drug stores chains, and Walmart. We don’t have a decent bookstore or any place to buy clothes beyond J.C. Penney, really, which explains why my wardrobe mostly arrives in the mail, from L.L. Bean.

One small aspect of our local shopping scene, however, makes me ridiculously happy—we have an abundance of apple orchards. I can think, off the top of my head, of 7 or 8 big orchards within a 25-mile radius.

We have an orchard for every occasion!

We have an orchard for apple cider donuts. These donuts are very important to my happiness, with their crunchy, spicy, fall-tasting cinnamon and sugar coating. The same orchard is also where we go, in general, for baked goods (crumb-topped apple pie!) and for taking photos of small children in a big pumpkin patch. But we don’t buy apples there.

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We have an orchard for hard cider. They have a number of different ciders, from sweet to dry, and they have a tasting room. You gotta love a tasting room! We like their cider with Thanksgiving dinner, but we don’t buy apples there.

We have an orchard for nostalgia. One of the local orchards was started and run by my family for years. It’s no longer in our family but they keep a photo of my grand-aunt and uncle on the wall, and honor those roots. We go there to soak up the good feelings and buy Christmas wreaths. But we don’t buy apples there.

We have orchards known for “pick you own” apples and for corn mazes or hayrides. We have big-time commercial orchards—you may be eating apples from our North Country orchards!

We have orchards that are also garden centers in the spring and summer. We have orchards that sell lunch. We have orchards that sell Christmas trees and wreaths and homemade jams and gluten-free baked goods. And chocolates and veggies and maple syrup.

And, of course, they all sell apples but we only have one orchard for apples. One local orchard offers newly-minted, exciting, experimental apples that have not yet been given a name. Every year we try apples known only by their numbers and we wait to see which ones make the cut to be honored with a name. We knew the yummy Autumn Crisp when it was only known as NY674.

This orchard has the old apples, the most-favorites apples, the apples you might see in the supermarket, and apples I never see anywhere but this one stand.

Every trip there is an adventure because something new has just ripened and been brought in off the tree. Sometimes, they will walk out to the trees and pick the apples we want, while we wait !

Last week we got Pinovas and Irons and SnapDragons and RubyFrosts and Spartans and Silkens. In weeks to come, we’ll look forward to Autumn Crisp and, especially, the supercalifragi-apple, the Northern Spy.

Did I say we have a dearth of shopping opportunities here?! What was I thinking?! The rest of the world can keep their high-end malls and their Fifth Avenues; I can get pretty much everything I really want or need at a local orchard.

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Can you get what you really want in your immediate locale?