Since heading out on her ebike from Bethel, Vermont, on October 6, Mary Anderson has visited all of the towns in the northern half of the state; she is now touring the southwest quadrant. Her goal: to visit all of Vermont’s 251 towns in one go. She has been posting daily since she began her trip, but last night she slept in a tent and had no Internet connection, so instead of an update of towns covered and miles traveled, today's post is something she wrote a couple of weeks ago and kept aside for a rainy day. The pictures are some of the hundreds she took as she pedaled across northern Vermont for three weeks in October.
The leaves out here are gorgeous. I am bombarded with new brilliance at every bend in the road. Anyone who has seen Vermont in autumn knows what I am talking about. Every night when I begin to fall asleep I see reds, oranges, and yellows behind my closed eyelids.
I was thinking the other day how amazing it is that these brilliant colors really are the true colors of the leaves. Leaves are only green because of the chlorophyll they make. When they first open in spring they show a hint of their true colors. The new leaves are pastel shades of the brilliance they show in fall. Then for most of their lives these true colors are hidden, surfacing again right before they die.
I thought how like leaves many people are. When we are babies we are not constrained by social norms, and some of our true nature comes shining through. As we grow, we so often put up defensive walls. We dress certain ways to avoid getting teased. We follow the rules so we don't stick out. It is often only in old age that we once again feel free to put aside all the constraints which we lived with. Our guards come down and we tell people more easily how much we love them or what we really think about something. We wear whatever the hell we want to wear, and at least for me, I am caring more about honesty than politness. If I want to go out in a splash of brilliant red, yellow, and orange, I will. Perhaps this is one consolation of aging, though what a world it would be if we all lived our entire lives letting our true brilliance shine.
About Mary Anderson
When Bethel resident Mary Anderson set out to hike the southern half of the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail in the summer of 2020, nobody thought she would make it. Hikers give themselves trail names, and Mary’s was Old Lady Hiker. A few days into her solo trek, she ran into some younger hikers who decided she needed a new name. From then on, she was known as Mary Badass. In the fall of 2020, Mary began writing her story in a Korongo workshop hosted by Kimball Library in Randolph. After completing her CDT hike in September 2021, she began a new challenge: A bicycle tour of Vermont’s 251 towns. Estimated time: four to six weeks.