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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

COLUMN Holt's Harangue

Author: Christian Holt

Finally, it's the time of the year when the leaves are turning. The landscape is a cornucopia of bright yellows, reds and oranges. It's magnificent, and something rather new to me. Like I've said before, I'm from New Jersey. We have fall for about two weeks. We cram in Thanksgiving and Halloween in a horrible hybrid that has kids going around at night dressed like turkeys and trick-or-treating for cranberry sauce. Our leaves don't change colors; they are all melted off by acid rain. The screams of those leaves still haunt my nightmares.
So for me, seeing a real Vermont fall is great. That is, if I could see it. I've got allergies that make my eyes swell up to the size of baseballs. But I've been told the sight is great. And ah, the smell! I love the sound and smell of broken leaves under my feet. No wonder Martha Stewart devotes 90 percent of her magazines to fall.
But there are a couple of problems I have with fall in Vermont.
One is the cherished smell of cow. And it's everywhere, on both calm and windy days … it simply takes your breath, or lunch, away.
Middlebury is in the middle of cow country. There are farms surrounding us from every side, an agricultural siege of the senses. I am not a big fan of the cow scent, good old bovine number five. My sense of smell, when my allergies allow me to smell, loves to smell the changing of the seasons. But cow is less enticing. It lacks that, oh, I don't know, pleasant smell.
I, however, have a solution to our cow smell problem: Napalm. The insidious bovine populations litter the countryside. Trying to rid the area of their smell conventionally would take a lot of soap, water and elbow grease I don't want to spend. Besides, this is more fun. An AC-10 Warthog's payload could easily take care of our bovine peril. Vulnerable from the air, they're easy pickings. Napalm would certainly end their little assault on my sense of smell. Plus, we get all the burgers we want! Napalm is a great cooking tool, and it leaves a better taste than normal charcoal. Instead of the smell of cow scat, we get the smell of barbeque!
With the changing of the leaves, we also get another annoyance: "Leafers," a.k.a "leaf peepers." These are the friendly folk who flock to leaf-changing like flies to a bug zapper. They come to New England religiously to witness the colors of fall. They stay in bed and breakfasts, drive 30 on the highway, take photographs and then launch 20 billion Web sites dedicated to the beauty of the leaves. It's a cult, really. They see the leaves change and are struck dumb (or dumber) by the beauty. Then they feel the need to post their Web sites to the leaf god.
But I'm not bitter. As a sign of good will, to all you leafers who have stumbled upon this column, I invite you to come and visit our countryside. Visit the farms, pet the bovine and stand right over there. Yes, that's it; stand right there, where that X is. No no, closer to the kill zone — I mean closer to that cow. OK, now hold that position for a few minutes. What's that sound you say? No it's not a fighter jet, it's a crop duster! Yeah, that's it! Excuse me for a moment; my allergies are acting up. I think I left my tissues in the car.
The resulting incident would take care of the cow problem and our leafer problem. Am I an innovator or what? Now we get the smell of leaves and barbeque! We can enjoy the sights of the leaves peacefully too. So go pumpkin picking, take a hayride or simply enjoy the sights and smells. It's fall, after all, and soon the leaves will all be gone. By the time that happens, my sinuses might clear.


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