Updated: Feb 8
When Ed Sheeran wrote about a million colors of hazel, golden and red, he must have been spending autumn in Vermont.
I spent a little less than 48 hours there in October and here’s what I found:
Vermont is at its best in the fading days of fall - perfectly outfitted, the leaves at their peak color, just as they are before winter comes and swallows up all their warm hues in cold greys and silvers.
It’s quieter there. The silence is a bit uncanny in our world of constant noise and stimuli but after a day or two, you start to realize that without all the noise, you can hear yourself in the silence we strive to avoid. After leaving, I found myself missing it.
Most of Vermont is open land, with slopes covered in tall evergreens, slender saplings, old maples and crisp, prickly pines. The sweeping hills are outlined by swift, sharp turns and dotted with a few small towns and even fewer red farmhouses. In between them stand a dozen or so farmers' markets and general stores, each with their own stock of savory Vermont cheese, rich maple syrup and even richer red wine.
Woodstock is among those small towns. It’s the kind of place where the town library, town hall and courthouse all stand tall next to each other, with several bookstores you can browse for hours that smell like fresh ink and newly glued binding. Shop owners ask you where you’re from, why you’re there and share why they’ve decided to spend their lives in this quiet little town.
Canary-colored daisies and mums dusted with smoky amber and burnt orange danced in wood-paneled boxes outside brick storefronts as we walked along the cobblestone streets to the old abandoned mill. At the end of the town, just as the shops end and the houses and white picket fences begin, there’s a French breakfast cafe in an old white stucco home. The inside is covered in canvases from local artists with dust from freshly ground coffee beans lingering in the air and smudging the paintings. My poached egg sandwich was nothing like a McDonald’s Mcmuffin. It came out perfectly in between solid and runny on a lightly toasted English muffin with fresh avocado and one of summer’s last ripe tomatoes; the blue-grey stone plates the color of the approaching winter sky.
An elderly couple walked by, bundled up in terracotta and charcoal colored coats, hand in hand, like they probably had been walking for decades. The husband tucked his wife’s arm gently under his as she shivered from the slight chill creeping into the air. Meanwhile, a couple who looked like they were on one of their first dates sat on a bench close by, sipping vanilla cappuccinos and engaging in the all too complicated exchange of questions where you don’t want to ask too little but you’re more afraid to offer too much.
It was a bit like stepping into a world you know you’ll never live in and probably will never return to.
I think that’s one of the best things about going somewhere new - you can step outside of your own skin, look in at your life from a different place than you normally stand, listen to hours of music in the car and lay awake at night talking to the God who created it all - who placed every leaf in Vermont on its own tree, tinted it just the right color to accent the ones next to it, while at the same time forming every person you walked by and writing stories for each of them.
Thank you, Vermont, for reminding me how beautiful change can look - a million colors of hazel, golden and red; how necessary silence is though we elude it; how small I am, and how big God is and how much life He has breathed into existence.