Change

     Three days after Hurricane Ike flattened Houston, it blew over Vermont at sunrise, bringing not a drop of rain, but an eerie wavering light. A few high clouds raced across the sky, and the topmost leaves of the trees trembled, but the only sign on the ground was a nervousness in the air, and the weird light.
     Uncharacteristically, Jane wandered into the back yard in her nightgown at 6 a.m. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she said, as light flickered in the Japanese maples.
     “It’s the hurricane,” I said.
     The cats perched like sphinxes on the porch, watching for something.
     The next week was sultry, as though the Carolinas had been dragged 800 miles up the Atlantic Coast. I’d go out in the back yard to get some work done, then sit in the sun and doze and slap flies. Jane came out to see what I was doing, then sat and slapped mosquitoes.
     Then suddenly it was over.
     Frost came, turning off the tomatoes. I gathered up the green ones. The jalapeño leaves wilted and drooped, revealing the year’s last peppers. Jane’s rainbow of coleus plants called it a life.
     But it was only a warning. By Columbus Day weekend it was warm enough to bicycle the 15 miles uphill through the woods to Marlboro. The maple trees put on a show: orange, russet, yellow, rust and red. Light broke through the woods and illuminated a stretch that was all pink and orange on one side, yellow and red on the other. Shaking my head in wonder I came upon an enormous sugar maple: half of every leaf had turned bright red, half had stayed green. It looked like a painting by Pissarro.
     Over at Scott Farm, the orchardist Ezekiel Goodband has pressed heirloom apple cider from Reine de Reinettes, Cox’s orange pippins and blue pearmains. He hands me a big, icy Mason jar. I bring it to my hungry face, inhale the aroma and taste it.
     Oh
     my
     god.
     Then the long weekend ended and the tourists went home. Old Man Winter turned in his bed and grabbed the first thing that came to hand – which was my throat.
     “Ngngk,” I said.
     “What’s this?” said Winter.
     “Gngrk,” I said.
     “You don’t mind if I hang around for about seven months, do you?” said Winter.
     It makes no difference whether I mind.
     The leaves that haven’t fallen have turned to brown, save for the last few glorious holdouts. It was 19 degrees this morning. I bake bread, pizza, beef stew, but it’s never enough. I am hungry all the time, like the rest of the animals.
     Bicycle sadly abandoned, I spend way too much money on new running shoes, then take the year’s first run through the woods. I mourn my bicycle for about 200 meters, then gaze at the river, at the beaver ponds, at the falling leaves and the colors of the surrounding hills.
     All the colors will end soon, as quickly as Indian summer did. The world will turn black and white. Fall is the reminder: things end justlikethat.
     The day after the run I shuffle around like an old man. Biking doesn’t prepare you for running. Summer doesn’t prepare you for fall. Fall doesn’t prepare you for winter.
     We’re hearing a lot about change these days. And change is coming. There is nothing anyone can do to stop it.

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