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Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

Editorial: Ephemeral autumn

It is easy to forget about the doldrums of January and the blistering cold of February during the mild days of September, but they will come. Despite the ominous tone, this statement regarding the advent of winter is meant to be inspiring rather than debilitating.
The only problem with Vermont autumns is their brevity; the multihued Vermont foliage and crisp air is far too ephemeral. So before the inevitable frost arrives, get outside and enjoy the local events and activities.

If you are the inert type or a first-year without a car, there is plenty to do on campus. The fly infestation at Proctor is even more reason to enjoy a two-hour lunch on the Terrace. Make good use of the Adirondack chairs around the campus grounds. Despite popular belief, they are meant to be sat in rather than stand as props in the Middlebury catalog pictures. Work may not get done outside as efficiently when compared to the library, but it is far more enjoyable to read under the Battell Beach willow tree than in a Davis Library nook. And those who feel like reveling in the afternoon sun can partake in the Middlebury tradition of ‘Dartying’ (as long as it is age-appropriate fun).

Take a few hours out of your weekend days and support Middlebury athletics as well. The soccer game against Trinity had hundreds of warm, content students cheering on the squad and the atmosphere was amazing. Attendance tends to dwindle into the double digits when the bite of winter ebbs closer, so enjoy all the games now and cheer on your friends!

Beyond the scope of on-campus activities, there are many events and locales nearby that are quintessential to the New England autumn experience. Bristol Falls and Lake Dunmore offer great swimming holes where you can spend time tossing a Frisbee and fruitlessly working on that tan. If you’re hungry, sample some of the local food at the Middlebury farmer’s market Saturday mornings in Marble Works. Not satisfied with other people picking fruit for you? Lucky for you, Vermont is literally littered with apple orchards! Some tried-and-tested orchards include Happy Valley Farms and Champlain Orchards. Armed with a wooden basket, close friends and gross overestimates of how many apples you can actually eat, apple picking has all the ingredients of a great experience. Picking can be great bonding time with friends or a romantic date, but most importantly it is a classic way to partake in classic New England fall fare.

There are even ways in which you can help others while enjoying the fall weather because, let’s face it, there is no way you are eating the 60 apples you picked before they rot. Gleaning, or collecting leftover or specially designated crops after the farmer’s harvest, has its roots in biblical tradition and is still utilized today as a charitable act. Several local farms leave a section of their crops for gleaning or allow gleaning of fallen and sub-par crops so that they may be donated to local food shelters. If you want to glean, you can contact the Addison County Gleaners and they will place you on an e-mail list and send updates on gleaning opportunities.

So whether you want to be charitable, or completely self-indulgent, do not let these fall activities slip through your fingers before the opportunity is gone forever … or at least until spring.