(HOST) In most parts of Vermont, fall color is still a few weeks away, but commentator Alan Boye took a walk recently where the leaves are already turning.
(BOYE) I’m walking on a remote, marshy strip of land at the farth- est reaches of northwestern Vermont. To my right the crescent- shaped Kelly Bay sparkles in the September sunlight. I can hear traffic on the distant highway bridge into New York. Although it seems like a part of Lake Champlain, the water beyond the bridge is actually the Richelieu River. I’m walking far from the highway, at the remote other end of the bay – a place where people seldom come.
I step carefully on the slippery, squishy surface that passes for solid ground out here. The afternoon is hot, and I am sweating. I push through a jungle of ferns and small maples.
A sudden squawk, squawk and a blue heron rises from the cattails at the water’s edge. With two graceful wing-beats it soars into the low trees and disappears.
I make my way through the bushes, moving towards the rocky spit of land that marks the end of the bay. There is a movement in the water. A large fish, started by my shadow, swims beneath a water lily and disappears.
I duck below a spindly branch of a maple. The afternoon sun beats down on me. The warmth makes it feel like a day in mid-July rather than early September. I begin to think how good the car’s air-conditioning is going to feel.
I stumble over a slippery place and stop. I’ve reached the end of the land. In the water are a few rocks. Like a tightrope walker, I step from one slippery stone to another until I am practically surrounded by water.
On the New York shore white buildings rise above the trees. To the north, beyond the bridge, a few powerboats slide across the wide Richelieu River. Beyond them, on the most distant shore, I see the flat fields of Quebec, full of summer’s golden bounty.
I turn back toward the bay and am stunned by what I see. It looks as if the Vermont shore is in flames. Now . . . even though I know that the lack of nitrogen causes maples growing in marshes to be the first to turn colors, I wasn’t expecting this. Every tree is at its peak. Even the gray water of the bay reflects the shimmering crimson of the hillside. Like a man suddenly transported in time, I stand in the summer’s fading sunlight and stare into the future at autumn’s fiery red season already upon the land.
This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.
Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College. He spoke from our studio at the Fairbanks Museum in Saint Johnsbury.