I once thought this time of year was the Useless Season. No snow. No prospect of snow. The equipment packages at the local ski shop are at full price. (Not a discount to be found.) We are still wearing shorts and T-shirts, for gosh sakes. (I look like a fool in my red chamois shirt. My wife and kids agree.) Some years we even swim this time of year. (I’ll do it this autumn, in a cool White Mountains lake, once the virus refugees leave the North Country hills and return to their suburban lairs.)
But maybe it is not so useless after all. There are plans to make, brochures to rumble through. It’s a good time to make sure the moths haven’t rampaged through our winter outfits. And while the air grows crisper by the day, let us admit that so does the fare of the season.
Damn the pandemic, full speed ahead to Brooksby Farm in Peabody, Mass., for apple cider; to Wallingford’s Orchard in Auburn, Maine, for cider doughnuts; to Lakeside Orchards in Manchester, Maine, for a fruit turnover; and down the hill a few miles over to the Apple Shed Bakery in Kents Hill, Maine, for a blueberry pie, the last of the season before the fresh berries are replaced by the canned variety.
All that and one more thing: the easy chair, and a good book.
When I was new to this sport — hell, it is still true, now that my helmet covers gray hair — my mother used to say that it was easy to find the young David at a ski area. Just look for the kid reading a book in the line for the beloved but now departed Skimobile at Mount Cranmore, in North Conway, N.H.