Leaving Leaves

Hi there.

Seasons have indeed swung up here…

Beer & Candle (and Gourd) night!

It appears that the Northeast Kingdom is at the vanguard of that whole “autumn foliage” thing. The trees began to noticeably change colors here in the last week in September…

As you can see from what is still a moderately erratic drone flight, said foliage did get pretty impressive. I took this video 2 weeks ago and, for anyone interested in the timing of such things, I would say the first 10 days of October seem to be the peak of color. Sadly, as of the time of writing this there are very few of these golden leaves still clinging to their branches.

We did get out for another hike last weekend, though, this time with 100% fewer ticks and 33% more family.

Kilburn Crags

And those leaves make exactly the noise you’d think they would when walking on them.

We actually had my uncle in town for the weekend and Daphne, having been on this trail before, acted as his Wilderness Guide so he wouldn’t get lost.

After the hike we were all pretty famished, so we headed over to the Littleton Freehouse for some lunch and an Oktoberfest pint.

Well, not Daphne, of course. She actually drank 4 pints of water instead, which had the expected outcome whilst on our way home.

As for Daph, her school seems to be regularly requiring us to pick her up because she’s coughed, or sneezed, or hasn’t eaten her lunch, or seems tired, or has too many strands of hair out of place… So that’s been a minor source of frustration.

It’s made it difficult for us to settle her into a comfortable routine since, just about the time we finish a full week of classroom instruction, they either require us to come pick her up and administer a COVID test and keep her home until we get the results (this actually happened yesterday), or someone else in her class tests positive and they shut the whole thing down for 8-10 days.

Worst. Lollipops. Ever.

Anecdotal evidence from other parents across the country would suggest that we’re not alone in this frustration. I’m sure we’re all, her school included, doing the best we can to keep our kids safe and healthy. But that means Daph has had a lot of at-home time, which means a lot of swinging outside in between regular work sessions with Mom.

No, she’s not being eaten by a giant, pink, nylon fish; that’s the sensory swing we bought her a while ago.

But, other than not being able to get into a steady routine with school, she’s doing quite well. As I mentioned earlier, she really enjoyed the hike we went on last weekend…

And, in even further outdoorsiness, one of her Christmas gifts has arrived early…

Which has prompted an important existential, self-actualizing question…

Is Daphne regular-footed, or goofy-footed?

Now, for my non-surf/skate/snowboard crowd out there, this means does she naturally prefer to ride with her left foot forward on the board (regular-footed) or her right foot forward (goofy-footed).

Sounds silly, but this is indeed an important distinction. Her father is goofy. (I mean…you know what I mean.) And given that we can’t really discuss with her which stance feels right, I’m having to get clever with distilling this information from her daily mechanics.

Meaning I’m doing things like watching which foot she uses most often when kicking a ball, or when taking the first step on the stairs. I threatened to sneak up behind her and give her a quick push to see which foot she uses to catch herself…but her mother put the brakes on that little experiment. She’s probably right (typically is); I can see how that might end in tears.

Anyway, once I can determine her stance, I can attach the bindings and we can work on getting her comfortable being strapped into the board. This kind of thing usually happens by bouncing on the bed with the board attached.

I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Talk to you soon.

Zoom Meeting

No. Not that kind…

The kind where you and your new neighbor speed around on one of those 4-wheel thingies for an afternoon. (“Eh, Teevees,” I’m told they’re called.)

Now I’ll level with you. This is not a thing I saw myself doing.
Ever.

And after about 10 minutes of riding, when I’d wrenched the right tire into a log and flew head first off the 4-wheeler into some tall grass (and had to “catch” the thing with my feet to stop it from rolling on top of me), I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue doing it.

But…

Those who know me are shaking their heads sadly right about now, because they’re well aware of my blind arrogance in the face of adversity. And crashing only made me want to master the infernal machine all the more. Yes, sometimes pride cometh after the fall.

My neighbor and his daughter did have to come around and rescue me, though, and used a winch to pull the toppled ATV out of the ditch and get it back up on the trail.

And I’m happy to say that was the only time I wrecked the thing. The rest of the afternoon was spent zooming along miles of beautiful trails deep in the Vermont woods:

And learning about some really interesting sites that are hidden back there. Like, for example, a graveyard from the early 1800’s:

A bit macabre, sure, but someone cares enough about this place to maintain it, keeping it mowed and edged…and I found that to be a lovely sentiment. There was also this beautiful paddock behind the graveyard where we stopped for a rest.

Note the grey clouds there… Foreshadowing.

As we turned and headed back home, the sky absolutely opened up on us. Each and every raindrop becoming a 35mph bee sting on my face and arms for the last 15 minutes of the drive.

But, totally worth it.

So much so, in fact, that I want to figure out a way to bring Daph and Jen along to see how beautiful these trails are up there. So I’m currently formulating a plan to procure a 4-seater version of one of these things. A “Ewe TV” I believe they’re called.

A bit like this thing…

We shall see if that actually happens…

Also, as I threatened in my last post, we did go back to Burtt’s Orchard to pick some McIntosh apples. And we stopped off for a picture at one of the most Vermont scenes ever on the way home…

A quick “Craggy McSailor” dance in the field needed to happen.

Again. Ridiculously beautiful.
The scenery is quite nice too.

And finally, we did quite a bit of upgrading to the ol’ chicken coop this weekend…

So they’ll have plenty of room when they eventually move out and get jobs making breakfast for us in a few weeks.

I’m not quite sure Jen is ready to be an empty nester yet, though…

See you soon.

Orchards and Australorps

I told you all this day was coming…

“O hai. Ahma cheekin.”

“What we are dealing with is a miracle of evolution… All this machine does is eat, sleep, and make breakfast.”

These little gals were born in Iowa on a Sunday, packaged up on Monday, and winged their way to the post office here in Vermont, arriving early Wednesday morning.

And you can hear Jen absolutely falling in love with them in that instant.

So we now have 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Black Australorps, and 2 Plymouth Rocks living in a plastic tub in our laundry room.

Welcome to the farm, bebe chicks. Oh look, I see you’re pooping already. Swell.

Fortunately for them, someone doesn’t care about the potential for a chicken caca surprise.

(I believe this one is “Mabel?” Might be “Mildred.” I can’t tell.)

I’m happy to report that they are growing like tiny peeping weeds, and they’ve doubled in size since the day we brought them home.

In fact, they’ve become so grown up that they were ready for their first field trip a few days ago. I cobbled together a little chick enclosure outside with some hardware cloth and stakes.

Eat your heart out, HGTV carpenters…

And so the chicks got their very first taste of the world outside of a processing facility, cardboard box, and/or a Rubbermaid tub:

Lots of happy peeping and dust bathing happening in there.

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll have lots more to say about these girls in the days ahead.

In other news, yet another Vermont rite of passage has been completed recently…we went to an apple orchard.

“What our apples lack in flavor, they make up for in ‘on the ground.'”

Yep. We drove out to Burtt’s Orchard, which was about 30 minutes away, and picked a huge bag of apples (a “peck” I’m told?) right off the tree.

“Okay, we pull from here…”
“Then drop ’em in here…”
“Aaaand… What happens now?”

Their McIntosh weren’t quite ripe yet (but they are as of a couple days ago, according to that website!) but the Jersey Macs have been pretty darned amazing. And the old-fashioned apple cider donuts were mind-blowing as well. Honestly, I’m thinking another trip might be in order this weekend sometime…

So, generally speaking, that’s been the last couple weeks ’round here.

Oh! I did convince our landscaper to drive his tractor up the giant hill in our yard, effectively creating a hiking path for us… That’s white-hot exciting news.

I’m told it was the steepest thing he’d ever driven up on a tractor, and…likely he won’t be attempting it again.

That said, it afforded us this new vantage point of our property…

Tiiiny Subaru!

I’m sure you’ve all had to hear us gushing about how beautiful it is up here, so I won’t bore you with it again.

But seriously…

Okay, see you next time.

Sunsetting a Summer

While it might not feel that way to many of you, we’re rounding the bend on summer up here in Vermont, and the first hints of autumn are beginning to nudge their way into view. Temperatures at night are dropping into the 50s, and the daily highs are settling back down to an easily manageable 72° or 73°.

And so to put a bow on what has been a most interesting and educational summer, my little family’s first in New England, we caught up with Grammy and went on an overnight trip to Nantucket.

We took the slow boat, like you should, out of Hyannis…

“Bye, Hyannis!”
“Whoa!”
“Look how far down the water is!”
“Hey.. When’s the last time this thing was USCG inspected?”

And, after a couple meditative hours of bobbing on the Atlantic, we eventually arrived:

As an aside, there are few better moments in life than the one that’s captured here. The island, and all your precious time on it, stretches ahead as the ferry eases into the dock. The sweet smell of land returns after a couple hours spent crossing the sound and fragments of my childhood kaleidoscope together with the changes to the island throughout the years. Memories swirl and ebb like cat’s paws on the water, there for a moment and gone again.

Okay, that’s enough of that nonsense.

Once we disembarked we picked up our rented Jeep along with some coffee and cranberry muffins, dropped our overnight bags into a room at The Beachside hotel, and then beelined for Children’s Beach so Daphne could go swimming.

“Oh, hey! This is a pretty big pool! What’s it called? ‘The Atlantic?'”
“Hmm. Somebody might need to see to the chlorine… I’m just sayin’.”
Bbbbbrrrr…”
“Hey, go tell somebody to turn the heat up, will ya?”

“Okay, this is not so bad…

And here, just in case you’re interested, is a picture taken in the same spot, roughly 35 years earlier.

Yes, that’s Young BumbleDad there in the water, splashing around like an idiot. (Also featured is a BumbleUncle on the right, and a BumbleCousin there in the middle.)
Oh look. I’m still that idiot.

We spent about three hours hanging around Children’s Beach before the sun started to bake us a bit. At which point we had to drag a very reluctant Daphne out of the water.

Because we had to embark upon a mission.

You see, one of the most important artifacts that must be procured during any child’s trip to Nantucket is the Turk’s head knot bracelet.

That little braided guy, there.

As a kid, I used to wear these things nearly year round. Or at least until midwinter, when they got so disgusting that they were essentially rotting right off my wrist. At which point my mother would make me cut the stinking things off with a pair of craft scissors.

But!

Each time we went to Nantucket in the summer, we’d replace them.

And while Daphne is still working on being comfortable wearing this one (and honestly, on wearing jewelry in general), we’re slowly getting there.

Alas, after a Steamboat Pizza, a couple beers, a night’s sleep, and then a quick Jeep jaunt around the island the following afternoon…it was already time to leave Nantucket again.

But, as you may or may not know, there’s something you must do on your way off the island…

And this was Daphne’s first time:

Two pennies overboard ’round Brant Point light

Doing so ensures you’ll come back to the island someday. Or, as I told my wife, life goal #847 is to have to throw two pennies when leaving Hyannis, assuring I’ll come back to the mainland someday…

Maybe.

See you next time.

There Will Be Bawks

You know, I had a solid, “posting once a week” schedule thing going there for a while, and then work exploded under my helmet and I utterly lost the groove.

But I’m beginning a mini-vacation as of today (taking a few days off this week), which means I have a bit of extra time on my hands…so,

Hi!

How you doin’?

Good, good. Glad to hear it.

Us?

Oh…you know. Doin’ our thing.

Daphne actually has a minor cold right now, and is sniffling and coughing a bit while lying here on the couch next to me.

“I daid doh’t dake mah pictdure now, Dad…”

Hopefully it’s just a little 24-hour bug.

Since I last posted for you all, Jen’s parents have come out to visit us and stayed in nearby Burke for a week, and my mom is currently staying nearby and our plan is to catch up with her over the next couple days as well.

So there have been several grandparent reunions for Daphne, and she’s absolutely loved seeing everyone during their visits to the NEK.

Getting down on some post dinner Vermont maple creemees from one of the local stands. You are permitted to exhibit your jealousy now.

And, speaking of Vermontishness, we recently made a pilgrimage up to the VT DMV in Newport to take yet another step in our quest to become real residents here.

“I hear the practical is pretty hard. Can you show me how you hold still using clutch control on an incline again?”

After which we did a quick walk around Newport which, like most places we’ve seen here, is lovely in new and entirely unique ways.

This is the view from behind the DMV, for example…

Then we dropped by a park up in Derby Line to let Daph play for a little while, since she was so incredibly well behaved while we filled out 45 minutes worth of automotive paperwork earlier.

And, when we got back home, we sloughed the old Texas tags off the Nanny Car and replaced them with our fresh, green, Vermont plates:

So, while we’re clearly anything but local, we now at least appear that way at first glance. As opposed to sporting those high visibility black & white plates that instantly branded us “damn flatlander!” from 50 paces.

Oh, and the more astute of you might’ve noticed something new there in the background… A little red edifice, perhaps?

Yes, our chicken coop arrived a few weeks ago

That tree line with the moon looks an awful lot like one of my Aunt Minka’s paintings.

A bit blurry, but you get the idea.

This picture also humble brags about all the sunflowers that we’ve done absolutely zero work to plant or cultivate but have popped up on their own simply to look beautiful there in our tea herb garden.

Anyway, it follows that a chicken coop would imply chickens themselves. But before you get full-grown chickens…you get baby chicks.

Six baby chicks that have indeed been ordered, and which should be hatching here in the next 12 days, give or take. At which point they’ll be crated up with some snuggly straw, provided a dollop of some bizarre hydrating goop, and will hop a flight to us. We pick them up the moment they arrive at our local post office which, all things being equal, should be sometime during the week of August 23rd.

Which means there will be a lot of chick pics here for you in very short order.

I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.