Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Foliage Wrap-up

It’s been raining hard here for almost twenty-four hours, and many of the leaves that remained have been stripped from the trees. It’s also been bizarrely warm, creating a weird combination of shortening days and short-sleeved weather. It’s officially stick season. And that’s not a bad thing, because it gives us a chance to look back over the busy fall foliage tourist season and reckon a few things:

* Our guests were as diverse as ever. There was a strong Kansas City-Wisconsin theme this year. Our marketing dollars must be going far in the midwest, because we had more guests from those two places than anywhere else, except maybe New York or Connecticut, and they don’t count because they’re always up here. It’s also curious because next summer I’ll be traveling to Kansas City for the Advanced Placement English Language reading. I was briefed in detail by the Kansans about the best barbecue and jazz joints, so I feel like I’ll be prepared. And the Royals are headed to the world series, making the Kansas City theme even curiouser.

* The weather was warm and sunny. Wicked warm. And wicked sunny. As I write this, in mid-October, it’s over 70 outside. But the whole autumn was balmy. We had one hard freeze near the end of September that propelled the leaves into...well, read the next paragraph.

* The foliage was spectacular. Really spectacular. Maybe it arrived a little early, because I heard some folks wonder aloud where all the color was in early October. The early yellows of the birches and poplars was a little slow to get going, but they filled in nicely at the tail end. Oh, and the color was everywhere.

* My Aunt Marylou died. I won’t say she passed away, because that’s one of those euphemisms that drives me--and my pal George Carlin--crazy. She didn’t pass anything, especially not at the end of her life. She died. And I loved her, even though I hadn’t really had much contact with her. She was kind and sweet to me when I was little, and I’ll never forget that, or the way she called all us cousins “honey,” or her laugh, bulbous and sincere, like her.

* I got a tractor. It’s just a little Kubota, but it should help with the snow removal around here in the winter, as well as mowing in the summer, and general property maintenance up at our spread in Montgomery Center. It’s taking me a while to figure out all the levers and buttons on it, but I’ll get there. Look for me this winter, wearing my old FedEx winter ramp gear, as I putter around the Auberge picking up snow and dumping it with my front loader. (Insert Lowland Silverback Gorilla sounds here.)

* I turned fifty. It’s a hell of thing, a man turning fifty. You take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have...oops, sorry about that. I was channeling Clint Eastwood there for a moment. And why not? He’s done fairly well after turning fifty. It’s not a bad thing to aim for. Chantal put on this big party for me, which was over the top, but I loved it. I got a knife from my brother, which is about the coolest thing you can get from your brother. And I got several bottles of whisk(e)y, whose cumulative age is well over 500.

So now it’s stick season. Time to think about heading into the woods for some partridge hunting, putting the snow tires on the car, and if it ever cools down, wearing sweaters. Did someone say snow?