By Diane Whatley
Vermont is a special place, like nowhere else I’ve been. All at the same time it is peaceful, exciting, colorful, calming. It’s a place to feel grounded, in touch with nature and myself. It awakens the senses. It is home. For me, there is no more special time in this great place than being in the woods, on the trail during fall foliage.
I think I’m one of the luckiest persons in the world – I can head out of my house and be on the Long Trail within five minutes. I hike this section of the trail at least once a week with my most loyal dog and trail companion “Jack. I’ve memorized this section of the trail by now and can anticipate each turn, each rock to step over and each small stream to ford. Jack eagerly anticipates his favorite spot to sniff out whatever it is that he smells and the quick drink or romp in the many mountain streams. While I walk at a steady pace, Jack easily covers twice the distance I do as he darts ahead to investigate and doubles back to make sure I’m still there. Someone once told me that a tired dog is a good dog – hiking is a great way to tire out your dog!
While I’m very familiar with this section of the trail I’m never bored by it. There is always something new to see, hear and smell. I might notice a new blooming woodland flower, or colorful berries ripening on a bush. Was that fungi on that fallen tree the last time I was here? Birds chirping, bees humming, leaves rustling, water trickling are sounds that are noticed in the quiet of the woods. The smell of fresh balsam in the middle of the forest is like heaven to me. Fall brings a change to the senses – today it was the smell of newly decaying leaves. I can’t wait for the crunch, crunch sound of leaves underfoot in just a couple of weeks.
Enjoy your quiet time in the woods and awaken your senses!