Three weeks ago, before our leaves in Philadelphia were turning, my friend Emily sent me honest to goodness real maple leaves from Vermont. She picked them herself, pressed and packed a pile of New England autumn down to the Mid-Atlantic, where the temperatures were in the 70's and our maple leaves were still green and fixed on their branches.
They carried a Vermont chill with them, the feeling of walking amongst the leaves wearing boots and a heavy sweater.
After spreading them out and admiring the colors, I placed them in our wooden salad bowl (made in Vermont, of course), and every morning I come down to the kitchen for breakfast wondering why we forgot to put the salad in the fridge the previous night.
Except we haven't been eating big, green, leafy salads, so I continue to admire my bit of Vermont, pour Vermont maple syrup gifted from another friend on my oatmeal or waffles, and watch golden leaves fall from our own trees now, hearing the dogs crunch them as they run about outdoors and up and down the kitchen door steps.