November blues: An ode to stick season

Jan Sabataso-McGinnis photo

[Originally published in the Rutland County Express on 11/11/10]

Hello, November. We meet again.

For many Vermonters, the change of seasons is an expected and welcomed occurrence. Upon its respective arrival, each one is embraced with verve and zeal and enthusiasm.

Indeed, snowbirds and ex-pats living in warmer climes often cite the seasons as the thing they miss most about Vermont.

I am no different. I’m always eager to dive into a new season – all six of them. Yep, I said six. As Vermonters know, in addition to winter, spring, summer and fall, we also have two interstitial seasons: mud and stick.

Now, mud season I like just fine. The thaw has begun and spring is just around the corner. Life is returning to the land. It’s a time of optimism and anticipation.

Stick season, on the other hand, is the solemn, dismal coda to autumn’s vibrant crescendo. Hard rains and frosty winds strip the trees of their leaves, washing away all colors but gray, brown and grayish-brown , creating both an aesthetically and physically inhospitable landscape.

November, if the calendar were a reality show, I’d vote you off first.

As I write this column, the rain is pouring down outside and the temperature is hovering around 39 degrees. It’s miserable; there’s no way around it.

But is it all that bad?

Killington is already open and, this time of year, rain down here means snow up there. The buzz of an early ski season gives people something to look forward to. (While I’m not a skier, I do enjoy joining my friends for the après portion of it.)

It’s also hunting season – a sport that runs counter to most people’s seasonal tendencies whereby its devotees actually choose to sit outside in all kinds of terrible weather for hours on end. (I may not be a hunter, but I am a carnivore so I do appreciate the sport when responsibly and respectfully practiced.)

November also means the return of the Winter Farmers’ Market. Once again, farmers and various other vendors move into the old Strand Theater behind The Co-op on Wales Street, keeping one of Rutland’s best assets alive and vibrant year round.

Of course, that brings us to the food. In the kitchen, this time of year means a return to heartier recipes – soups, roasts, stews, and other comfort foods that warm your home, filling it with great aromas.

In my circle of friends, dinner parties and potlucks abound as we retreat indoors. Our weekend nights are spent in one another’s kitchens, enjoying warm food and good wine, content to linger in this in-between season reprise.

While the weather may not be great, there are positives to stick season. So make the most out of it – it’s a brief chance to catch your breath and recharge before the onslaught of the holiday season, because once Thanksgiving hits, it’s all over until January.

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