It’s impossible to complain about the weather in California. Well… it’s certainly possible to complain about the weather, but you’ll sound like an ass and will get serious side-eye from anyone living someplace where Storm Watch 3000 means something more substantial than “maybe it’ll rain.”
In fact, just one year ago, Mr. M & I found ourselves in the Manhattan blackout created by Superstorm Sandy.
So I reeeally can’t complain when the forecast in LA shows: sunny, 70F, always. What do our meteorologists do besides think up synonyms for ‘sunny’?
Honestly, I love that inclement weather has become something in which to indulge rather than a sobering fact of half my year. But as “autumn” rolls into LA, I can’t help wishing that it felt a bit more… autumnal.
Something feels wrong when you’re sipping an ICED pumpkin spice latte. While sweating.
Days #10,764-65: Our first autumn living in New York, Mr. M & I decided to take a fall foliage road trip to Vermont.
Our first stop after crossing the NY-VT border was the town of Bennington- mostly because I’d heard tell of a great roadside diner, the Holy Grail of road trips.
Blue Benn Diner (314 N. Main St), housed in a 1940’s dining car with its multicolored handwritten signs advertising daily specials, did not disappoint.
Breakfast consisted of pumpkin pecan pancakes topped with Vermont maple syrup eaten at the counter- because the counter is the best, nay, only, place to sit at a roadside diner.
As much as I love a good diner, that’s not the only thing the town of Bennington, VT has going for it.
The Old First Church (1 Monument Circle) has one of the loveliest cemeteries around… plus one very famous resident, who (pre-death) lived just outside the town limits.
One of the reasons why Mr. Frost loved Bennington had to be the Apple Barn & Country Bakeshop (604 Route 7), which supplied us with the perfect, ever-essential road trip drink: freshly pressed apple cider.
Sustenance in hand (or cup holder, rather), we were off to Brattleboro Retreat Farm. I’d read about public hiking trails , but when Mr. M & I pulled up and saw a wooden red barn- complete with livestock mulling about- a detour had to be made.
Some baby chicks, two donkeys, and one goat that took a shining to Mr. M later, we eventually made it out to the hiking trails.
Turns out, fifteen minutes into our hike we’d happened upon the Harris Hill Ski Jump, which has been hosting ski jump competitions since 1922. We were only able to climb halfway up (not complaining… I had a mini panic attack being a mere 45 meters off the ground and should add “Ski Jumper” to pilot & astronaut in the list of professions I should not attempt).
As it started to drizzle (Storm Watch 3000!! Wait… sorry… been in LA too long…), we made our way back to the car, and I heard Mr. M The Man of Few Words issue a blood-curdling shriek. I whirled around thinking he’d (a) been attacked by a chupacabra; (b) been hit by a blow dart; or (c) spotted Zombies headed our way. But it was worse than I could’ve imagined- a marmot had emerged from its hole just in front of him.
Both terrified of the other, marmot and man half-fled, half-chased each other down the hill. Mr. M worried about the “rabid beaver” all the way back to the car.
Stay back, ladies. This one’s mine.
The next morning, in spite of the run-in with the marmot (surely the Sci Fi channel’s next horror movie… “Marmot from Hell: Your worst nightmare lives just below the surface”), Mr. M & I drove to Manchester to hike Mt. Equinox.
The thing about weather is that it has a mind of its own; it was a little too soggy to consider a full-day’s hike in the forest.
We were still able to get a bit of fresh air before returning to Manhattan. Mr. M & I used to live out in the countryside when I was attending veterinary school, and one of the things I miss most is the labyrinthine corn maze that would crop up around Halloween. When we passed a sign for a real, live corn maze on our drive back into New York (Kettle Farms, 5154 Route 7, Hoosick Falls, NY), it was a no-brainer.
More than simply dictating how many layers we don, weather conjures up a mysterious mood-mélange of smells, sounds, and tastes.
I miss that damp, expectant dirt-smell in the air. The crunching of fallen leaves when you stomp through them. Burning wood and nutmeg. That circle-of-life feeling of metamorphosis and anticipation.
It seems oddly appropriate that LA, the city that refuses to age, also lacks seasonality. I wonder if my hometown has lost touch with the value of turnover, change, and evolution.
There’s just nothing like a toasty pumpkin spice latte on a crisp autumn day.
To explore last year’s autumn adventure eating my way through Ann Arbor, Michigan, click here!
Details of the Day: A stop at the Retreat Farm (350 Linden St, Route 30, Brattleboro) is a must. Start next door at the Grafton Village Cheese Company. I’ve been buying “Grafton Cheddar” for years and had no idea it was birthed right here! Next, stop at the petting farm.
They take wonderful care of their animals and do a great job creating an educational environment- apparently for kids & adults alike, as this was Mr. M’s favorite activity of our trip! From the parking lot, you can access the Retreat hiking trails. And then go back for more cheese. It’s a wondrous place.
Accommodation: In keeping with our Weekend in the Country theme, Mr. M & I decided to overnight at a bed & breakfast. Preface: We are NOT B&B folk. I’m not amused by floral wallpaper. Making small talk with other guests is not my cup of tea. Especially before I’ve had my cup of tea. (I know, I know… perhaps anti-social New York was the right place for me after all.) Which is why I’m not sure why I went all in and booked a B&B.
Even if I were a B&Ber… I’m not sure the Snow Goose Inn (259 Vermont 100) would be my top choice. Yes, the owner was really sweet and yes, it was like sleeping over at your grandma’s house what with the doily-esque duvet covers and Victorian furniture… but at $190 a night? If I wanted a creaky bed, mauve shag carpet, and a UHF tv… I’d airbnb a room for 1/4 the price. P.S. Everyone on trip advisor is willing to pay through the nose for old lady style and disagrees with me. Vehemently.
What makes leaves change colors? When Mr. M posed this seemingly innocuous question, I internally snickered at him for not knowing, then stumble-mumbled through an answer that sounded like: “Photosynthesis! Chlorophyll! … Ahem… witchcraft… uhh… you know…like… science?”
Suddenly, the Snickerer became the Snickeree.
So that you don’t have to suffer a similar case of Sudden-Onset Mumbles when someone asks you to explain science, here’s the Clif notes.
Chlorophyll, the molecule that give leaves their green color, is involved in photosynthesis (converting sunlight to glucose/plant nutrient). During autumn, there’s less sunlight to convert to food, and a subsequent decreased need for chlorophyll. Like a temporary, seasonal furlough. Without green chlorophyll to overshadow them, the orange and yellow pigment molecules get to strut their flashy stuff. Hence… magical, color-changing leaves! Ba-daaa!