Thursday, November 15, 2012


New England Autumn
While driving home from my place of employment today I started to reminisce. After a few moments of this, it struck me "What caused me to suddenly travel down memory lane like this?" Then I realized what it was. It was a smell.

Now one thing I remember about being a wee lad in the Fall is the leaves. (Bear with me, I'll get to the smell thing momentarily.) They were, at first, slowly changing in color as the days grew shorter and the nights grew colder. Then one morning you'd wake up and spread across the valley was this amazing riot of color.

We lived on a hillside facing what my Mom and Dad always called the "Seven Hills of Springfield". (Never counted them, but Mom and Dad said it, so I believed it. (Parentes sunt veritas!) To our North, well beyond one of the hills, loomed Mount Ascutney. Due east was a long ridge running alongside the Black River as it flowed down to the Connecticut River.

Over yonder was Elm Hill where I once watched two airmen die when their T-33 rolled over on its back and plunged to the ground, exploding first in the air and then again as it hit the ground. (Not all childhood memories are pleasant.)

Now each of these hills/ridges were a good 3/4 of a mile to a mile and a half away from where the family abode perched on the side of our hill (Craig Hill, if I rightly recall), so we had a pretty good view. And in the Fall there came a certain time when those hills were ablaze with multiple shades of red and gold. Here and there was the deep green of a stand of pine or evergreen.

Looking back on it, I am amazed. People actually travel long distances and pay money to see this sight which was mine, for free, while I was growing up. I never took it for granted, though seeing it everyday was kind of routine. But what a memory!

Now eventually those leaves fell from the trees. They went from being gorgeous and breath-taking to being a chore, a task which must be accomplished. Somebody had to rake all those leaves. They were not going to rake themselves, unlike Rhode Island where I think they DO rake themselves. (I do very little raking in my yard. The wind blows constantly from October to June, nearly always from the southwest. Leaves I see in my yard when I leave for work, have moved on when I come home. Off to the small forest which lies due east of Chez Sarge. It's rare for me to actually rake leaves. Mind you, I'm not complaining!)

Now at some point in time, all those leaves lying about are bound to get wet. It's not all sunshine and apple cider up here. No, sometimes it rains in the Fall (and in Vermont, we usually saw snow before Thanksgiving, sometimes even before Halloween.) And wet leaves, if there aren't too many of them and if they're well ventilated, have a distinct aroma. A smell which I find pleasant. A smell which never fails to take me back to the days of my youth (cue Led Zeppelin).

That's the smell which triggered the reminiscing on the drive home. The smell of wet leaves. Thanksgiving approaches, I see deer in the fields in the gloaming. Fall is moving along, winter is not far behind.

But for now, I think of getting to spend a holiday with my Mom and my two kid brothers. Unlike some, I can go home again. Because in my heart, I never left. My roots are deep in the soil which lines the banks of the Connecticut. My ancestors lie buried on either side of that old river, in New Hampshire and Vermont. It is my home, it always will be my home.

Life is fleeting. Enjoy it while you can and praise the Lord for each cherished moment with family, friends and loved ones. I do.

It's also nice that I have ALL of next week off. Sweet.

The Sarge, 12 Days, Smoke Free. Woo Hoo!


  1. I've prolly said this hundreds o' times at various blogs and in Real Life... Fall is one of the few things I miss about living Up Nawth (Michigan and Western NY). The sights and smells of the season are unique and simply wonderful. You managed to make me miss what used to home with this post, Sarge.

    Thanks. (Srsly)

    1. (sigh) "what used to BE home..."

    2. You're most welcome.

      Re:"to BE" - I do that ALL of the time. My brain goes faster than my fingers can type.

  2. Woo-Hoo! Another person with all of next week off! Yeah, it's sweet.

    I know the smell. Hard to capture exactly in words, but a bit musty, a touch of earth, but still sort of a clean smell overall. It's a damn good one.

    Now, I have to admit I thought you were headed for the smell of leaves burning. There's one I haven't had the pleasure of in quite a few years; banned in most places I frequent. That was a truly magnificent smell, though.

    1. I'll second that burning leaf memory. It's in my DNA, too.

    2. Burning leaves. Indeed. It's been a while since I've enjoyed that smell. No doubt we old-timey New Englanders dicked up the ozone doing that!

      But it's no "attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion..."


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