Air a chill, leaves aglow, mischief fills the night.
There is a thrill, each child will know, an evening filled with fright.
Apples, pumpkins, goblins too, believers big and small,
Will tell you friend, there is no end, to the fiendish fun of fall.
If there’s a heaven, and one of the rules says you have to live one month of the year over and over again, I would pick October. The weather is perfect with its’ warm days and cool nights that tempt you to leave the window open just a crack and put an extra blanket on the bed. It’s the kind of weather made for the fireplace and hot cocoa. Is there anything better than coming home to the sound and smell of a crackling fire? Okay, maybe a crackling fire and an apple pie baking in the oven.
If, you too, are a fan of fall, I don’t think you could pick a better place to live. Get in the car this month and drive 45 minutes in any direction and you’ll be staring at the kind of foliage photographers travel across the country to capture. Everyone has their favorite memories of fall and many of mine take me back to a time when my teenagers were babies and my mom was still with us. We’d climb in the car early Saturday morning and take Route 7 out of Troy through Brunswick, Hoosick and all the little towns along the way toward Bennington. When the Four Chimney’s Inn on the left-hand side of the road came into view, we knew it was time to stop because nearby was a collection of shops with some of the finest Vermont cheese, syrup and fudge.
After replenishing ourselves, I’d asked my sister to pull the car over just down the road so I could snap a picture of the amazing Walloomsac Inn. Built in 1764 it was once occupied by such dignitaries as Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison.
Looking at the weathered grey wooden exterior I’d say it hasn’t been painted since. I always thought it looked like the perfect haunted house, so I’d take a photo hoping that when it was developed I might see a ghost peaking from the faded yellow curtains upstairs. So far I haven’t caught a ghostly image, but I’m sure he’s in there hiding.
Once in Bennington, we would cut over to historic route 7A where the real fun began. We’d pass a rickety shack called Howard’s Art Museum, where an old timer who lived on the hill would sell his wares. On days when the storm clouds behaved, he’d lean his paintings on the shack like a father proudly displaying his children.
Next stop, the Chocolate Barn, where I am still convinced, employees add something magical in the chocolate to make you crave it more than is humanely possible. From there we’d hang a right and take the short drive to East Arlington and a place called Candle Mill Village. The perfect spot to have a picnic lunch by the babbling brook or if you were feeling special, a sit down meal at Phyllis’s restaurant. The chairs and dishes didn’t match, but the food was like something Grandma would make.
Back to Route 7A, where we’d make stops at the Pumpkin Patch (known to the locals as the Equinox Valley Nursery), where the farm was filled with lifelike pumpkin characters and fake gravestones with cute epitaphs like – “Here lies Johnny Yeast, forgive him for not rising” or “Here rests Susan Blake, stepped on the gas instead of the brake.”
After securing the perfect pumpkin, we’d make stops at Basketville, The Jelly Mill (which featured a real old-fashioned Nickelodeon) and we’d always make time to feed the huge fish swimming outside of Orvis. If there was any money left over, the day might end with an agreeable meal at the Marsh Tavern in the Equinox Hotel.
Some of these places are no doubt gone, but like the ghost of the Walloomsac, many still remain. I’m sure you have your own favorite places to haunt and shop and make memories with your loved ones. Whatever place is dear to you, make time to go before Halloween candy is eaten and the snow starts to fly.
From wagon rides, to apple picking, to fresh cider donuts and kids jumping in leaves; there is just something special about October. I don’t know if heaven works that way, where one month is all you get, but if I had to be stuck somewhere in time, autumn in upstate New York isn’t such a bad place. In fact, check my gravestone in about 40 years and perhaps you’ll see something like this.
Here lies Johnny Gray, never at a loss for things to say.
No more news, its time to snooze, an eternity now of play.
But don’t be sad cause he’s with his dad and mom and grandpa, too.
They’re back at the stream, sharing a dream and wishing they were with you.