It’s leaf-peeper season here in Vermont. That means that the tourists are out in force peeping on the lovely autumn colors on the mountains and valleys around the state.
Vermont didn’t have so many colorful maples until we cut everything down to make pastures for merino sheep farming back in the 1800s, and the softer, brightly-colored, sugar-producing, fast-growing maples took over in the primary succession following the reduction in all that farming and clear-cutting. Old-growth hardwood forests are few and far between in the state now.
So all those fantastic colors are a byproduct of human activities anyway. Just like scenic dairy cows on postcards. That doesn’t necessarily make them less lovely, just less magical.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and a few Europeans migrate to Vermont to take a tour bus ride up into the spectacular foliage in October. Surely some will take a nice walk, but all the traffic around town says otherwise. How is it that we take in the outdoor beauty without actually spending time outdoors? Expensive jackets made for mountaineering and rock climbing are also making a fall colors appearance, although they are primarily used for running from the car to an outlet shop.
Foliage season is only pointing out with clarity that being outside, for many, is too hot, cold, or rainy. We like our nature prepackaged and managed. Do you need a $300 jacket to protect you from the elements when you spend no time in the elements?
We like to look at nature, but are afraid to participate in it on even a minor level. How can you hear the leaves crunching under your feet or smell the fall smells when they are masked by the sound of an engine or the smell of exhaust?
There is so much evidence that going outside and being technology-free helps manage stress levels and more–we need to stop hiding in our cars when it might rain or turning on the A/C full blast when it’s hot, and we need to just go outside and deal with whatever weather is out there.