It's the start of stick season in Vermont - ie the time after foliage has fallen off the trees but before snow has blanketed their branches. It can be a dark, chilly time of year fraught with Vermonters waxing skis and compulsively checking the weather channel.
I was once at a small house concert with two musicians from Montana who, upon hearing of stick season, said "Oh thank goodness, it must get really claustrophobic around here the rest of the year." That is not Vermonters' standard opinion of our foliage, but the instinct to celebrate the late fall off-season is a good one.
The first step in embracing this time of year is mulling items. Not mulling ideas, mind you, but cider, wine, glogg, those sorts of mullables. The new Vermont Switchel Company is diversifying this year's warmed beverages, their concoction of cider, vinegar, ginger, maple, molasses and lemon is a great warmed with a cinnamon stick or with spirits (Dunc's Maple Rum, perhaps?) or as an addition to mulled cider.
The next step is finding a good book to read with your mulled item. A food, farm, or gardening book by a Vermont author would be particularly appropriate. This year Ben Falk has gotten attention for his book on permaculture, The Resilient Farm and Homestead, then there's To Eat: A Country Life by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd, and if you want a humorous recent release in a Vermont food and homesteading vein, there's Mud Season by Ellen Stimson. The catalogues of Vermont-based publishers Chelsea Green and Countryman Press are always a useful starting place if you want the latest on healthy food, homesteading, small scale agriculture, or cooking with local products.
We understand that visitors from out of state don't necessarily have a bookshelf, stove, cider, and spices near at hand. Never fear. The New England Independent Booksellers Association provides this listing of bookshops around the state. And, using the DigIn places guide, you can easily find a coffee shop nearby (sometimes right in the store itself) to retire to with your book purchase.
The final step is to take your book, your beverage, warm wool socks, perhaps a quilt, and settle in to enjoy the stick season!
(Don't worry, we haven't forgotten that there's also great stuff to do outside at this time of year - check back for Friday's post)