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.
Today my wife and I went out for a walk. It was late morning. It had been raining, really just showers on and off, but the rain had let up so we thought a walk would do nicely. We were in a dry weather window, so we ambled up the road. It was a tad muddy. A couple of new houses are being built nearby and the road has been getting chopped up a bit. I wore the wrong shoes. Crocs. Not the best for a damp gravel byway.
My poor choice of shoes didn’t matter in the end anyway. As we walked through the woods, looking out at the field, I asked “Do you think that is rain coming our way or just wind?” The answer: “I think it might be rain.” The sky in the west was dark. That dry weather window closed quickly.
It rained steadily and then harder, and harder. And it kept coming down. Deluge. We got soaked. We stood under some trees for a bit, although that hardly helped. We turned around for home. It kept raining. Before we got back to the house the sun broke through. Blue sky and wind. If we had waited a half hour longer to begin we would have missed that downpour. But our day would have been less interesting.
The foliage has been turning. It is not at its most brilliant yet, but it is still a sight. With cool air, and yellows and oranges sprouting among the trees, autumn is sliding on in, excusing herself to step in front of summer. As we walked the last stretch to the house, we got to see some of her beauty. Autumn wasn’t showing off, mind you, but she is dressing itself up lately. Even with my Crocs squishing and my shorts soggy, I couldn’t help but admire how good she was looking today.
The turning foliage this year is brilliant. Every day it seems to get brighter. This is one of the benefits of living here. Nature creates art. We are surrounded by beauty.
Took a walk at Shelburne Farms the other day. Ka-pow! The lake was roiled. The wind was up. The leaves flashed their colors. The gray clouds skipped across the sky.
Lake Champlain Surf
Yesterday rain fell. The sky was dark. By late afternoon the sky was really dark. But then the sun broke through and the hills lit up. Eye candy.
Suddenly this will all be gone. The wind will rush in and strip the trees. The fields will turn from green to brown. Snow will fall. The world will be beautiful in a new way. But this, this is stunning. It calls for expletives and interjections and exclamations and acclamations. And sometimes all of them in one sentence.
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.
Things are popping around these parts at this point. Yesterday and today were just simply glorious, fabulous, lovely, or whatever other descriptors I don’t typically use to describe, well, anything really. I was out early this morning and, once again, was reminded that I live in a beautiful place. It is always beautiful, and it is easy to take that for granted at times, but on days like today–hoo boy what a stunner.
A big fat rainstorm is predicted to hot tonight. We might get a couple of inches of rain, winds with 50 mile per hour gusts and cold temperatures. My guess is we will have few leaves left at which to gawk when it has passed. So it goes, however. We still have some fall left. And then, welcome winter. Once it snow, we will have a whole new wonder upon us.
Here are a couple more photos from our vantage point. It seems to be stunning if you ask me. I woke this morning and ran in the rain. In the dark. It was surreal, mesmerizing, the rain drops white and spinning in my headlamp. It was the first morning I had to run with a light the whole time. I saw no foliage. Later, when we walked out to meet the bus, it was still raining, but the gray light on the colored hills was beautiful. It’s hard not to be mesmerized this time of year, and this one seems to be another good one. These photos are from yesterday afternoon.
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?
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: