Friday, October 21, 2011

What Comes With Fall

Vermont is coming for me. Each October, her long branches point west across Lake Champlain and into the Catskills of New York. From there, she rides the thermals across the Great Lakes regions of Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Migratory birds call from the shores, but Vermont has her own migration and will not rest today. 

She tumbles into North Dakota with the sagebrush, causing a buffalo standing on the prairie to gaze into the sky wondering why her coat, already thick for winter, twitches on a still afternoon. Later, closer to twilight, a solitary wolf in Montana howls although there is no moon and a tree frog sings the hummingbirds to sleep. Vermont is on her way, and aren't I the last to know? 

She tiptoes across forest floors, skips stones to cross streams, holds her breath over bridges. She splashes into Coeur D’Alene, and trails an apple orchard into Washington. Three peaks, Three Sisters, point her to Oregon. Meanwhile, I long. I long for early mornings with my mom and sisters, family pets long gone, and cold mornings that call for homemade blankets. I long, too, for afternoon drives with Dad through the countryside as my sister and I point out the fall foliage and say things like, “that hill is on fire” or “that tree is solid gold.” Early attempts at metaphor; saying one thing, but meaning another. Go ahead, fill your cup with apple cider if you want; mine gets filled with nostalgia this time of year. 

By now, I've lived out of Vermont longer than I lived in it, but it's where I first breathed. Maybe all that we inhale in those first few breaths settles within, mixes with our blood and genes, and becomes another part of us, like shoe size, temperament, or balance. No matter where I am on the compass, every October Vermont comes for me, tells me I’m hers. Reminds me I was born on her turf. This year she finds me on a college campus. She wraps her branched arms around me as her crisp air slinks down my back. Air that's scented with mulch, sweetness, and the promise of winter. For a moment, I'm with my dad again in his orange van, the family cat, Gracie, is back on top of the fish tank, and the old kitchen table where my mom and sisters and I had tea in the morning has milk and spilled sugar on it once again, the way it did more than twenty five years ago. 
                  And I think, wherever we are, wherever we were born, 
it is our birthright to be remembered. 


  1. Lisa, it is truly a delight to read your graceful words. You convey the peace you experience from your travels through your written voice. I am looking forward to following you through your split pea adventures!

  2. I appreciate your words, Unknown, thank you. I clicked on your name - saw you have a spot on blogger too. I'm gonna follow it. Bloggers unite! :-)

  3. You write the Gospel According to Terra. Such yummy food for thought. My Vermont is wherever the ocean meets the shore.

    - Meredith

  4. Meredith, I know that Vermont... a lovely spot. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Lisa--

    What a lovely, lovely essay/blog/set of insights! Thanks for stumbling upon mine and thus leading me here. I went to school in Vermont, so I know some of what you speak of. Such a beautiful place. I also appreciated these lines --“that hill is on fire” or “that tree is solid gold.” Early attempts at metaphor; saying one thing, but meaning another--as I can completely relate.

    Subscribing now!

  6. Thanks, Emily, for both the kind words and subscribing. I'm happy you're here.