It is an odd fall. The leaves turned slowly. Some years we have a blast of color. It knocks your socks off. You can’t help but be dazzled. You look at the hills, and then look again, and then say something out loud like “Damn that’s amazing.” Even poets stumble over their tongues. This year we had some of that but I never saw that blanket of red and orange and yellow, that hallmark of the northeastern autumn. Things have been more stretched.
It is mid-November and trees all over are hanging on to leaves that catch the eye. Full, ancient maples are brimming with orange. Oaks show off their muted yellows. Even some sumac are red. Red sumac leaves in mid-November? Is that a thing now?
Standing at the lake I was accompanied by maples full of leaves–yellow on one side and red on the other. Across the water, the Adirondacks still had some color, with snow topping the peaks. There is some awe in that scene. At least I found some.
Maybe this is a thing now, or will be. Is climate change pushing the season out? Likely. Maybe this year is an anomaly, but I am guessing we will see our fall foliage show happening later and later, one more effect of our changing climate I will notice each year in our corner of the world. Whenever it happens I will still, I am sure, have moments where I lose my words. I am happy to stay silent in those moments. The color can do the speaking.
Peak foliage has passed. Around here it was about three weeks ago. Earlier farther north. We have had some wind, plenty of it in fact. And lately it has been raining. A lot. Wind and rain tear down the leaves, especially after they have reached their peak color. And so it has been. But there is still plenty of color to be had in the trees.
This morning I went down to the lake. I was hoping to find ducks. And maybe a late shorebird. Shorebirds have mostly migrated through, but there are always a few stragglers. But I didn’t see any today. I did see ducks from up north, however. Some of them will stick around for a while, as long as the ice stays away. I saw Buffleheads and Goldeneye and even a Black Scoter. Even if I hadn’t seen any, however, it would have been worth it.
The Adirondacks across the water were lit up with scattered sun. Clouds skittered across the firmament, but broken. So the sun popped though onto the mountains. The brilliant leaves remaining, and the fresh snow up high, were glowing. I started in Shelburne, with some birding success (Black Scoter!). I kept going south after that to the Charlotte town beach. I struck out there–the wind was fierce. There were a few Mallards in the cove and some gulls circling in the air currents, but otherwise it was a dud. But those mountains…
Even on the Vermont side there were a few gems. One oak was ka-powing right next to my car. And there were maples lining the road in a couple of spots–yellow and red and orange. I mean, it isn’t what busloads of visitors come to see. It wasn’t whole hillsides of brilliance. But still, there is some color sticking around. By Thanskgiving it will all be gone, but I’ll take it for now.
We have had some wind lately, and some welcome rain. Most deciduous trees are bare. Our yard was covered in leaves the other day. My wife took advantage of the wind and raked them up into the air so they would get carried off. There is a wall of leaves now at the edge of the field. The lawn is clear.
We have had snow a few times. Nothing much in the valley, although some tracks have been laid on high elevation slopes already. And we have been getting rain for days, on and off. Several days ago I laid the hose on the hill to dry so I can roll it up and store it for the winter. It has only gotten wetter. We haven’t cut the grass in weeks, but it is still green.
A few trees, like the Japanese Maple next to the house, are still bright. That tree is brilliant. It isn’t native but I can see why it was planted. It’s a beaut. And there are places where red and orange and yellow leaves are spread out in bright layers. The foliage that draws leaf peepers may have dwindled but there is plenty of color lingering in the corners.
When the sun has managed to find its way out of the clouds this week, it has highlighted the snow on the mountains, or the trunks of trees now visible, or the leaves piled at the edge of the woods. Slowly this will fade to gray, but fall is still here.
Here it is, the color wash on the hillsides, the collective visual shouting of millions of leaves. That shouting will get even louder in the next week or two. Talk around here has come back around to whether or not we have reached peak foliage.
I don’t think it’s peak here yet; I give it two weeks yet.
I love the noun “peak” to describe the brightest, most resplendent moment of the turning of the autumn leaves. The thing to do is to be on a peak at peak to take a peek at the brilliance from where the view is broad. Stunning it is on these last days of September, with weather to allow us to see it all.
Personally I am guessing maybe ten days until peak. I haven’t been wrong yet this year.
The leaves are getting mighty bright around these parts. They are not quite at their peak yet, but they are close. Other parts of Vermont are in top form. I’m thinking next weekend for us, unless we have a big change of weather. Here is a bit of what we’ve got:
More Glowing Maples
And check this out. My kids decided to rake a bunch of leaves today, because “wouldn’t Daddy be so excited if he saw that he didn’t have so many leaves to rake?” Then they got distracted, as children should, by the leaves they were raking. They shaped them into a dragon. They even added stones at the tail to look like scales, but “big ones so we don’t forget and leave them out when you mow the lawn.” And it does look like a dragon, don’t you think?
I have used green as a background color on this blog for almost a year. It’s time for a change, hence the blue you now see. Small change–I may look to make bigger changes at some point. For now, however, a little switch up is good for me.
Once thunderstorm season comes our way, we get rainbows. Late in the day, the sun slants low across the fields. When scattered showers fall, the light shines through the falling water and it glows. A rainbow arcs across the sky. Last night as the children were falling asleep, rain fell through the sun. The rainbow lasted a half hour or so. It was one of the longest lasting I have seen. We will have more. This is a perfect spot for rainbows.
Recently I was stacking wood into the back of our garage and my daughter picked up the camera. She took a lot of photographs. Digital photography has changed how parents allow children to take photos. With the old roll of film situation, we would have burned through of couple of long rolls had my daughter shot so much. As it is, she took lots, got some pearls and some seaweed.
I was impressed by some of her shots. They have good composition, play with colors and light. Here are some samples:
This year the foliage is brighter than it has been in while. Falls seems to just slowly seep in and then suddenly, Bam! The leaves are orange and red and yellow. This year that happened and I was hit in the eyeballs. Just behind our house the leaves are on fire. Every time I drive toward the house I say wow. I come home that way on purpose.
Here is a view coming from the other direction, after the tractor parade yesterday: