We have not been to New England in the fall since we sold our Connecticut home in 2011. When an unexpected problem came up and we had to go back suddenly, I thought, we could make this trip fun.
I’ve never thought anywhere can be as beautiful as the Northeast of the US during October and into November. The grass is still green and just preparing to change into its brown winter coat. The trees that lose their leaves for the winter are preparing, if they haven’t done it already, to change to oranges and reds.
Dressed in sandals with no socks, no coats, just sweaters, since that is all we own in the Caribbean, we froze on the way to our rental car. The temperature was just below freezing. Driving to the hotel, the ground had a frosting of snow. It was dark, where in the tropic islands it would be dusk, just in time for happy hour at a local beach bar. My ecstatic state of mind about being back to this part of the world became frosty fairly quick.
My bad moods never stays around very long and the next morning with the car heater going and a cup of hot coffee in hand, I remembered the good reasons to be in Connecticut. The ground covered with the newly fallen leaves still radiated their dying but vibrant new colors. You’ll never know spectacular until you’ve seen it.
Without the summer undergrowth to cover them, the stonewalls are part of every autumn view. Glacial rocks were carried from the Arctic tens of thousands of years ago as the Arctic ice grew. These boulder and rocks made it to New England and gave up their travels as the ice melted, filling New England’s fields and valleys, carrying them all they was to the sea.
When humans arrived, they needed to farm, to grow food and graze cattle. The glacial rocks were in the way. The early settlers carried the rocks from the fields and placed them to the side. They piled the rocks neatly, in long lines many acting as border markers. As a result, hundreds of years later those stonewalls are still there. They comfort and amaze us. They’re a thing of beauty; worn, moss covered and entwined in vines.
They’re a symbol of New England. You can’t walk in the woods, with the crunch of dead leaves underfoot or the musty scent of nature’s compost in the air without stumbling or crawling over a stonewall. They’re an artifact of life when every family farmed for themselves. No one was there to care for them. No big business to control what we eat. A way of life that is virtually gone, leaving future generations, their stonewalls for history. So much a symbol of New England and a thing of beauty stonewalls are that many people just built there own.