What Is Stick Season? Uncovering New England’s Melancholic Charm

Picture this: you’re driving through the picturesque countryside of New England, expecting to be greeted by a vibrant tapestry of autumnal hues. Instead, you find yourself surrounded by bare branches stretching towards a gray sky, like a scene from a haunting gothic novel. Welcome to stick season, the often overlooked yet strangely beautiful period between the brilliant colors of fall and the first pristine snowfall of winter.

A Time of Transition and Reflection

So, what exactly is stick season? This term, unique to the New England region, refers to the weeks from late October to early December when deciduous trees shed their leaves, leaving only their naked branches exposed. It’s a time of transition, as nature prepares for the dormancy of winter and the promise of spring’s renewal.

But stick season is more than just a literal description of the landscape. It has taken on a metaphorical significance, representing a period of introspection and contemplation. As author John Updike once wrote, “New England enjoys a four-season year, which urges consciousness of time’s passage and rewards discrimination in its use.”

Embracing the Melancholy

For some, stick season evokes a sense of melancholy and loneliness. The vibrant colors of autumn have faded, leaving a stark and somber world in their wake. The shortened days and chilly temperatures can feel oppressive, like a weight bearing down on the soul.

However, others find beauty in this often overlooked season. The bare trees reveal the intricate architecture of their branches, creating striking silouhettes against the sky. The absence of leaves allows for unobstructed views of the landscape, revealing hidden vistas and secret corners of the world.

As poet Robert Frost wrote in his poem “My November Guest,” “The desolate, deserted trees, / The faded earth, the heavy sky, / The beauties she so truly sees, / She thinks I have no eye for these, / And vainly to console me, she / Says, ‘Beauty is truth, – truth beauty.'”

Finding Inspiration in Stick Season

In recent years, stick season has gained wider recognition through the work of artists and musicians. Singer-songwriter Noah Kahan’s song “Stick Season” paints a poignant picture of this time of year, with lyrics like “And I’m stuck in stick season again / The trees are bare, there’s snow in the wind / And I’m feeling old, I’m feeling tired / Missing the way, the way my life was wired.”

For writers and artists, stick season offers a unique opportunity for creativity. The stark landscape and introspective mood can inspire hauting prose, moody paintings, and evocative photography. It’s a chance to explore themes of change, loss, and resilience in a way that resonates with the human experience.

Embracing the Beauty of Stick Season

So the next time you find yourself in New England during stick season, don’t despair at the lack of colorful foliage or festive snowfall. Instead, take a moment to appreciate the quiet beauty of this transitional time. Bundle up and take a walk through the woods, letting the bare branches guide your path and your thoughts.

As you wander, remember the words of Updike: “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” Stick season may not be as immediately breathtaking as its more famous cousins, but it offers its own unique charms for those willing to look a little deeper.

In the end, perhaps the melancholic allure of stick season is best summed up by poet Wallace Stevens in his work “No Possum, No Sop, No Taters”: “The field is frozen. The leaves are dry. Bad is final in this light. In this bleak air the broken stalks Have arms without hands. They have trunks Without legs or, for that, without heads. They have heads in which a captive cry Is merely the moving of a tongue.”

So embrace the melancholy, find beauty in the bleakness, and let stick season be a reminder that even in times of transition and uncertainty, there is always something worth discovering if we only take the time too look.

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