The Slice: You should have been here in fall of ’66

In many areas, the approach of Columbus Day signals that fall-colors season is here in earnest.

So please allow me, a former resident of the Republic of Vermont, to tell you how to sound like a foliage snob. It’s fun and surprisingly easy.

Just follow these simple directions.

1. Do not pronounce it “foil-age.” Besides being wrong, that will mark you as a complete boob to serious leaf-peepers. It’s like saying “newk-u-lar” in certain politically charged settings.

2. When someone is going on and on about autumnal splendor, splash on a little cold water by saying “Not enough red.” Often, in the Spokane area, this comment has the advantage of being true.

3. Don’t hesitate to dismiss a colorful vista as “pre-peak” or “post-peak.” The reality on the ground (as we pundits like to say) is almost always one or the other.

4. Do not be afraid to pull out the classic all-purpose put-down: “Ahhh, I’ve seen better.” OK, maybe that sounds a little insufferable. But for some of us, it’s simply telling the truth.

5. You can’t go wrong saying “Well, it’s not up to 1966 standards.” Feel free, if appropriate, to add “Of course, I was a child at the time.”

6. You can often trump someone else pretending to be a connoisseur of fall scenery by saying “Not bad for a state where highway billboards are legal.”

7. Pretend to be able to distinguish one kind of maple tree from another by closing your eyes and listening to the sound the wind makes when blowing through its boughs. When skeptics doubt it, you can simply shrug and walk away, muttering a few lines of Robert Frost.

They fall from giving shade above

To make one texture of faded brown

And fit the earth like a leather glove.

8. When picking up and staring at a single leaf, try to look as if you are in tune with the rhythms of nature. Say to the leaf, “Yes, I know.”

9. Never wear new sweaters. Your fall wardrobe should seem seasoned by zesty living.

10. Learn to condescend. Practice saying things like “Aspens? Beautiful? Ahahahahaha. I’m sorry. No, you’re right. For inoffensive little monochromes, they are quite striking.”

•Re: The Slice’s observation about former newspaper carriers: “I delivered the Spokesman in the late ’50s in Plains, Mont., and I always wondered what I got from the experience,” wrote Doug Wheeler. “Now I know: I am cheerful and attractive, after all these years. I always thought it was the cookies and treats that I received from my customers that made me so great.”

•Today’s Slice question: What do kids learn from trying to sell stuff as part of school or club fundraisers? (Let’s assume they’re actually involved and it’s not just the parents doing the selling.)

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail pault@spokesman.com. Transitioning to long sleeves can be problematic when your office is too warm.

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