Always New, Always Amazing

Foliage season last year was one for the record books. It came early. By the first of October—two weeks ahead of schedule—the sugar maples were showing off their colors: buttery yellow, pumpkin orange, and fiery red. They were soon joined by aspens and birch trees glowing sunny yellow and yellow-green. Even the staghorn sumacs, usually considered a “junk” tree, were lit a brilliant coral. And the weather was so mild you could go out and enjoy the show in shorts and a T-shirt.

The old-timers said an early start would mean a short season and a disappointing finish, but it wasn’t so. The leaves blazed away all through October and even held on into November. That meant we could enjoy the season’s beautiful but lesser-known second act—when the leaves turn deep scarlet, burnished copper, and smoky purple.

The out-of-towners were here in force. In any other season, they drive twice as fast as the locals. In fact, when we were kids, we would make a game of guessing a car’s state of origin by its speed. “Mass,” one kid would say, as soon as a car came over the rise. “No way, too fast,” another would say. “Gotta be Jersey.”

But in autumn, leaf peepers poke along the roads at the speed of a hay wagon while the local folks speed around them. The locals don’t have time for foliage; they are late for work, or they need something from the grocery store, or they have to get the kids to softball practice. And they figure, fall will be there next year, right? Sure, it will—but it won’t be the same fall, will it? This year, I’m taking a cue from the visitors; if I see a bunch of cars pulled over and people taking pictures, I will stop and see what all the fuss is about. I am grateful to our leaf-peeping friends for reminding me that every fall is amazing, especially when you see it through fresh eyes.

The Orton Family,
Gardner, Cabot, Eliot, Lyman