Last weekend I hiked at Shelburne Farms. Beside one of their colossal barns, I found an official announcement of fall. This sugar maple is only an anemic usher of what we’ll see in another month, but the message is clear:
Behind my house, the hill is heaped with boughs of goldenrod, which blooms through early fall. They glow in thickets of five- and six-foot canes.
Each bough holds bees, yellow jackets, and beetles all collecting pollen and apparently oblivious to any inter-specie rivalry. They’re oblivious to me, too, as I loiter long enough to catch one at the right angle:
The goldenrod is offset by sprays of aster, another favorite flower of fall:
One of the very best parts of fall—for me—are the apples. After a banner harvest last year, my own fruit trees took the season to rest. They grew only a few apples, and these were eaten by deer. Fortunately, there are some professionals down the road, at Shelburne Orchards. I visited this afternoon. In row upon row of beautiful trees, the abundance of apples is astonishing, almost preposterous:
The orchard grows a good variety: honey crisp, macoun, paula red, ginger gold, gravenstein, and Rhode Island greening, to list a few. I happened to stop on the first day of macintosh picking. As the picture above indicates, my five-pound bag filled quickly. I also got fresh cider donuts and cheddar cheese. The cheddar came from the cows at Shelburne Farms, which you may recall, is where this essay began.
And so I sat behind my house, near the bees in the goldenrod and aster, and had a fine start to fall: