The Five Senses of Fall, Part III: Touch

Woodland HammockPicking up where we last left off, this post touches on the tangible side of the Fall season in Vermont (I love a good pun).

I think tactile sensations are often taken for granted. We use the sense of touch so routinely that our awareness of the sensation patinas to a vapid utility.

“What does Fall in Vermont feel like?” I asked myself.

At first blush, I drew a complete blank to the question.

So, I contemplated the matter from my woodland hammock…

For me, Fall in Vermont is the feeling of bare feet surprised by cold floors. Unlike in Maryland, where Fall means the warmth of summer without the humidity of summer, in Vermont, you go to bed on a warm night and wake up to a cold morning and before you know it you’re hopping around on the bathmats because the floor is just so darn cold! No “gentle transition” here — changing seasons is serious business on this hillside.

Fall here is also the feeling of smooth, waxy tulip bulbs feathered in papery shards that flutter away in the wind and the cool, crumbly winter quarters that we’ve dug for each bulb.

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It’s the soft, springy blankets of aster flowers that spill over planters in waves of color and the tender and delicate frills of ornamental kale and cabbage, radiating outwards with brilliant veins of color.

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Some trees are bejeweled with small, hard berries; others with soft ripening fruit too stubborn to let go. Fall is felt in the sun-kissed curves of pumpkins with their gritty vine toupees that love to catch on your sleeves and the smooth, taught skins of apples nearly bursting at the seams with sweet juice.

It’s the interplay of itchy scratchy wool and silky soft cashmere; of buttery leather boots; and the cloud-like warmth of a fleece-lined jacket.

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Fall in Vermont is a soft and swiftly-lain carpet of a thousand shades of orange. And it’s the feeling of dry leaves between my fingertips as I pull out little hitchhikers from my ponytail after I’ve gone for a walk!

For hunters, it’s the heft of their rifle in their hands; for gatherers, it’s velvety smooth clusters of maitake mushrooms.  For me, it’s the radiant warmth of cradling a cup of hot cider in my hands.

As we’ve just experienced this evening, it’s also the feeling of snow flurries raining down on the mountainside, delicately dusting the golden foliage.

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