Burnt-Out Ends of Autumnal Days

The day we saw Lake Placid it was dreary so that I wanted to have a go at the miserable veil of grey above our heads, release the vivid blue that teased us once awhile as we started on our drive from Saratoga Springs. The dying embers of brilliant reds, flaming oranges, pinks, lime yellows they might have been but how they shone even under leaden skies. Fall foliage in the boreal landscape of the Adirondacks had peaked and we watched it slowly disintegrate before the eyes.

Skeletal bodies of trees showed up in neat rows conjuring up the image of someone who had taken time to strip them bare methodically in a linear manner. The stray red leaf which clung to a bald tree as if to challenge the bluster of the wind, the leaves flying above the road gathered up in fistfuls by the wind to coil up, then unravel suddenly upon the windscreen, rows and rows of spiky spruce, pines, beeches on either side of the roads. At places where we stopped by creeks to gather leaves and photographs, also to feel the cool sting of the air, sprigs of hemlock showed up like starbursts in white.

Bobcats, beaver bats, muskrat, flying squirrels and black bears are said to roam the forests of the great park that is the Adirondacks. But all promises of wildlife were foregone because that is what happens when you owl it into the wee hours of the morning (with alcohol). It crosses out any prospects of hiking. Yet you do not want to miss out on the promise of hills, hamlets, log cabins and brooks… At a fuel station, I bought French Vanilla cappuccino, took a sip, and proceeded to empty it into the bin outside. Wastage. Utter shit. Unhappy Adi.

But look, I pointed out to him before he could gather steam, a golden head peeping out from the back of a big (I should probably stop saying big with reference to anything in America) pick-up truck. A golden retriever with pretty curly locks and hair softer than mine looked at us with her head cocked up in the completely winning way that only dogs can. She had a joyful time licking us while her old human friend, a farmer, came around the car to hold forth on with her ill-concealed pride. That she chases chipmunks around her house up in the wilds of the Adirondacks because you see she is possessive about the human and the homestead. That she also refuses to let him step out alone to the farm. She has got to be overseeing things from the back of the truck, you see.

That is how we reached Lake Placid which was placid but dismally grey — like Nessie would emerge from those depths if she could be persuaded to abandon her watery home in the Scottish Highlands for the Adirondacks. The village was chock full of people. Touristy. But our plan is to return for a hike there beneath blue skies. We ended up at the hamlet of Keene nearby where many hikes start, where beautiful lodges with wraparound porches sit next to gentle brooks and where rustic log cabins double up as tastefully done-up boutiques. Be prepared to find moose heads (very Abercrombie & Fitch) and stuffed black bears staring back at you solemnly — the eyes of the latter will follow you around.

There are photos below taken in motion, some blurred, some not perfect but in the mood of the moment in the land named for the Algonquin tribes who resided in the area. Their neighbours, the Mohawks, derogatorily called them Adirondacks which translates into ‘barkeaters’. Now I do not care much for eating barks though I do care for that sumptuous sap they yield and I do care for the cafe in Keene that serves the fluffiest chocolate muffins I have ever seen – they are as big as the fist of a wrestler – and beautiful life-giving loaves of bread and also the most delicious chocolate cookie chips that I have ever chomped on. Crisp buttery edges and a soft crumbly middle, chocolate oozing out in rich gooey pockets. And then Adi who had a cheshire cat grin as he proclaimed, ‘Glutsy’s on a roll,’ and later with a few bites and a hangdog look, declared it reason enough.

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60 thoughts on “Burnt-Out Ends of Autumnal Days

  1. Those bejeweled trees giving the last hurrah before they drop into winter sleep are exquisite … I thought I knew what Autumn was and then I experienced Fall in New England – achingly beautiful and I understood at last what all the fuss is about. The stuffed animals make me sad so I will instead close my eyes and dream of muffins the size of a man-mountains fist. Sounds like a fair exchange to me! Xx

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    1. What a beautiful note right at the beginning there, Osyth. I cherish the sound of it. You know we were aiming for Vermont and the Adirondacks happened instead. Naturally I was expecting not to be swept away but I was. Parts of the Adirondacks, which we saw the day after, reminded me of Vermont. Fall is definitely what nature does best here.
      Stuffed animals make me sad too and they make me shiver. There is something too uncanny about people thinking of adorning their homes with taxidermied creatures.
      But by George those muffins and cookies! I did not take photos because I was too busy slavering. xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There is something disquieting about taxidermied creatures. Like the bear sprawled out on the table. But yes, the incredible and effortless beauty of nature gets to me always. The colours were brilliant and I think I have fallen in love with the Adirondacks. Unexpected joys, Sophie. 🙂 xx

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  2. Reading your blogpost, I could smell the leaves disintegrating into the soil becoming the compost to fertilize and nourish the land. It’s earthy and a little sad. The ending but also a beginning. Your photos remind me of Oregon where Lex is from – so beautiful…. Neek P.S. Coffee at fuel stations always suck 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oregon…reminds me of a book I read a child. The Oregon Trail. Your words were so poetic, Neek, and I love the haunting beauty of them. Thank you for them.
      And I have finally sworn off coffee at all fuel stations and Starbucks (this might trouble you if you are a fan of the chain). xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your photos and descriptions inspire me! As for Starbucks, they’re okay but we like Dutch Bros. better. Unfortunately, they are located in Northern California and Oregon. We love their Chai. Sigh… why are you so far away…

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      2. We would consider that an honor! In the meantime, NYC sounds lovely. Lex has a good friend up in Rochester acting in a play, “Glengarry Glen Ross”. Wish we could see it but we’ve already spent our travel budget on this trip. If you and Adi ever visit Los Angeles, please let us know. We would love to host you! Take care. 🙂

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  3. Makes me want to pull on my hiking boots. Well, actually, makes me want to eat muffins as big as wrestlers fists – and then hike. And then sit on one of those wraparound porches in a rocker with a blanket over my knees. You have a gift for painting sumptuous word pictures.

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  4. Arundhati, this landscape is beautiful. I haven’t been able to have a proper Autumn in my entire life, so these scenes are always more than welcomed. I wasn’t expecting the lodge interiors filled with golden wood. I’d love to be transported there this moment, to walk through those woods and finish the day with hot chocolate and warm bread.

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    1. One autumn pack your bags for somewhere up in the Pacific north west? I have been seeing photos from my sister-in-law and they are stunning. In that lodge, I wanted to slip into those cosy beds lined with those lovely fur cushions and it was cold outside so it was even more delightful to step in. Hot chocolate and warm bread is a delightful combination to chase up a walk through the woods. xx

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