Fall is upon us here at the little house on the hillside. In celebration of our changing seasons, I thought I would do a five-part series that touches on all of the sensory experiences of fall in Vermont, since the visual elements tend to get the most attention.
The aural experience of Vermont in October would not be complete without the metallic drone of chainsaws, revving to life like an inhalation as they cut through seasoned logs, then fading away to a dull hum as they await their next task. Throaty ATVs make quick work of moving the woodpile, and the logs offer a satisfying thud that you can feel in your bones as you’re stacking them.
The wood-burning stove has its own dialogue, creaking and groaning as the fire warms its walls and sporadic clicks and murmurs as the metal cools down. There’s the pops and sizzles of a damp log as the fire licks its sides; the hiss of air as the vents are opened and closed to control the flame. It’s the squeal of the handle on the stove and the rich whoosh of air as the fire drinks in the outside through the open door before the next log is thrown in.
Fall would not be without the crunch of leaves underfoot. It’s the sound of sweaters getting pulled out of storage, of jackets swish-swishing as they stave off the nip of cold in the air.
It’s the hum of bees scurrying across the fall asters as they drink in the last of nature’s bounty for the season; the symphony of crickets that will crescendo into silence; the spectral cries of coyotes echoing across the valley on a dark night. In the morning, it’s the subtle crunch of grass kissed by light frost.
In our home, Fall is the methodical chop-chopping of root vegetables for soup; of applesauce bubbling and blurping away on the stove top; of warm bread crackling while it cools on the countertop. It is the impatient whistle of the tea kettle and the muffled sounds of slippered footsteps.
You can hear it in the shops as they hawk their apple cider and pumpkin-flavored wares. And you can hear it in the towns as they celebrate the harvest season. It’s the thrum of snow tires on snow-less pavement, and the skittering of dry leaves across the sidewalk.
All at once, fall is a cacophony of noises and an oasis of quiet preparation for the winter that is to come.