What Does "Season of the Sticks" Mean? About the Vermont Season That Inspired Noah Kahan's Song

Melissa Willets - Author

Jan. 29 2024, Published 12:07 p.m. ET

Twilight exterior of a Vermont B&B, Jackson House, Woodstock, Vermont
Source: Getty Images

Vermont is famous for its foliage. In fact, in 2015, the state declared its colorful leaves were the best in the world, with over 3.5 million people estimated to visit the New England spot just to see the magical time of year.

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"No one does foliage better than Vermont," Gov. Peter Shumlin said in the statement at the time. "With our flaming reds, blazing oranges and glowing yellows, we have the most vibrant fall colors in the world."

But it turns out that the state's trees are renowned for another reason — the season of the sticks. What is this? Read on to find out.

Vermont skiing
Source: Getty Images
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So, what is the season of the sticks?

After the world travels to Vermont to see its stunning fall foliage, the state of course attracts tourists for a wintertime sport: skiing.

Even more folks journey to the northern locale to enjoy its many ski resorts to the tune of over 4 million per year.

But in between fall and winter is the so-called season of the sticks, when trees have lost their vibrant leaves, but snow is yet to fall.

Singer Noah Kahan popularized the term in his song aptly titled, "Stick Season."

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As he told Genius, “It was a term that was used by some of the older folks in the town I grew up in to describe this really miserable time of year when it’s just kind of gray and cold, and there’s no snow yet and the beauty of the foliage is done."

One of his lyrics says, "And I love Vermont, but it's the season of the sticks." The rest of the song is kind of a downer, to be honest, and tells the story of bad memories and strained relationships, resulting in feelings of isolation and despair.

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Noah Kahan's "Stick Season" achieved much success.

Noah's song did very well both in the U.S. and abroad, with the album of the same name reaching the top five of Billboard's Hot 100.

He was also nominated for a Grammy in 2023, as "Stick Season" went viral in the U.K. and pulled in over 1 billion streams online.

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As he told Variety in December 2023, although people are learning who he is due to "Stick Season," "Yeah, I’m appreciative for everybody discovering me now. I have been doing this for a while."

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About the term we also discovered with the song, and its themes of loneliness, he said in part, "It’s been really cool to see people in cities or places that are far away from New England resonate with these ideas."

Fans are definitely feeling it, as Noah intimated.

"That 'Stick Season' song goes THROUGH ME," one fan tweeted.

In fact, the tune has so affected fans, that even Olivia Rodrigo covered "Stick Season" — and the song went viral on social media, with fans and celebrities alike sharing their own covers.

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Indeed, in addition to the "Vampire" singer, Zach Bryan also shared a cover of "Stick Season," adding another notch in Noah's belt, and perhaps making even more people feel less alone — or at least curious about what stick season is like in Vermont.

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