Place Where You Live:

Bennington, Vermont

The Bennington Momument behind Autumn foliage, by photographer Tim Hunt.

There’s a distinct crunch beneath my feet as I tread down the beaten and battered sidewalk. Tourists linger on every corner; I weave my way through them, smiling politely as I pass. One taps my shoulder, and I pivot around to face them. “Excuse me,” they say, looking quite lost, “ but do you happen to know where I could find ?”
“Of course.” I smile at them. “Cross at the stoplight down there, and the second building on your left will be your destination.” They nod and hurry off in the direction I sent them. I continue on my way, noting each person I pass. Tourists are abound, taking pictures of the leaves on the trees, and the ones that have fallen to the ground – the ones I carelessly stepped on to get here. The locals brush past the sea of sightseers with scowls on their faces.
“They’re just leaves.” one local mutters under her breath; and, looking down, she’s correct. To the local community, the autumn foliage means little. We see it come and go annually, and are indifferent to the red, orange, and yellow tints the trees now possess. We have become accustomed to ignoring the enriched environment of our small town of Bennington. So then, what makes these dead leaves so captivating to the tourists?
When I was a child, I was enamored by the beautiful rural environment of the town. The leaves captivated me as they do the tourists. The crunchy leaves were the best for making leaf piles to jump into. I admired the vast landscape behind my house, as our green mountains flourished with color. I dreaded the coming winter, when all this beauty would fade.
Observing the tourists, they hold the same enamored look we all once did. They stop at every corner to admire a town that the locals consider mediocre at best. While the community within the town finds little in it, the communities that pervade from outside the town bring with them a sense of appreciation that was long lost on the community, and returns annually with the tourists’ foliage.