There’s a special beauty to Vermont’s so-called shoulder seasons. I wrote about my love for Mud Season earlier this year, and I appreciate Stick Season too. Fallen leaves, long nights, and killing frosts create space for perspective and ease. Hardwood hillsides are a subtle shade of purple, the ridgelines are dusted white, and cold-hardy garden plants are still going strong (kale is incredibly sweet when harvested in the snow). This year the golden tamarack trees are especially bright, glowing like candles in the misty hours of dusk and dawn.
If you’re like me, and enjoy daydreaming over Vermont real estate listings, November is a month of special temptation. True, there aren’t many places new to market this time of year, but homes that didn’t sell by the end of foliage season are sometimes available at very reasonable prices, as sellers are looking for offers before the heating bill comes due.
For example, there’s 62 East Avenue in Burlington, just down the street from Burlington Co-Housing and a stone’s throw from Centennial Field, where the Vermont Lake Monsters play baseball. When 62 East Ave first went on the market the asking price raised eyebrows - $1,200,000 is a lot of money in the Vermont real estate world. There’s no home quite like this in Burlington, though - a carefully maintained Victorian walking distance to the University of Vermont and the Medical Center, with multiple sundecks, large windows, and a sexy grotto apartment in the walk-out basement, complete with a hot-tub and pink stone walls. Then there’s the enormous backyard, which feels like a cross between an organic permaculture farm, a particularly well-tended section of the Boston Public Gardens, and the inner sanctum of a zen monastery. I figured that 62 East Ave would sell quickly after a big price drop last summer, but it didn’t, and eleven price drops later the asking price is down to $465,000. Wowza.
November can be a particularly sweet time for nostalgia, too. Over on Happy Vermont, the talented Erica Housekeeper just published Twelve Years in Vermont, a touching personal reflection about moving to Vermont with her husband, along with a rundown of some of her favorite Vermont retreats. “It’s hard here,” she writes. “But it’s also wonderful.”
A Story of Thankfulness, by Brett Ann Stanciu, captures a similar spirit of gratitude in the midst of what some might call hardship. I love the image of Brett Ann laughing out loud on a cold and silent November morning, happy simply to be alive and human in the stillness and the snow.
For visitors, the weeks between foliage season and ski season are a good time to find a deal on accommodation, and enjoy the simple luxury of cozy peace and quiet. I smiled to see a Vermont travel story in the Connecticut Post on November 4th with a wonderful first line: We went to Vermont to do nothing. How idyllic.
If you come to Vermont in November, look for an inn with a fireplace and a pub, and don’t be shy about asking for seasonal rates. Highland Lodge, in Greensboro, is one of my local hangouts. There’s a fireplace in the library (check!) and if you’re lucky your Hill Farmstead draft might be poured by Rep. Sam Young, a rising star in Vermont politics who moonlights on occasion in the house bar.
The Grafton Inn in southern Vermont was a favorite destination of my Grandmother Ellen, who appreciated all of the wood burning fireplaces throughout the property. The Falling Leaves Package at the Grafton Inn runs from November 4th through December 20th this year, with a room and breakfast available for $149 per night, Sunday through Thursday.
Treehouse lodging is a thing in Vermont these days. My friend Heather, an AirBnB superhost, just put the finishing touches on a treehouse by a babbling brook in the woods of Hardwick. I’ve been following the progress of Heather’s treehouse on Instagram @stonecityvermont and all of the thoughtful little touches look amazing. Heather hosted her first guests last weekend and is running an introductory promo at $75 per night for the month of November - you can book at Lovely Treehouse in the Woods.
Finally, there’s the most delightful Vermont AirBnB that I’ve found over the years: Eastview Farm in Springfield. Aimee and Rich, who settled on Eastview Farm after many years of work in the West African nation of Gabon, have created a refuge of simple elegance and warm hospitality in a brick farmhouse that dates back to 1810. Aimee teaches yoga classes for guests in a studio off the kitchen and Rich - a charming Englishman - serves up an epic English breakfast. At night the old fireplace in the living room throws off waves of crackling heat.
Even on days when the sky is gray, the ground is bare, and freezing rain is rattling against the windows, when you’re curled up by a roaring fire with a good book close at hand, Stick Season is an absolutely wonderful time of year.
Do you have a favorite Stick Season destination or activity? Have you noticed an intriguing Vermont real estate listing? Let us know via social media, and use the hashtag #todaysvermont. Thanks, as always, for reading.