Friday, October 2, 2009

The Connoisseurs of Fall Color

Now that I've been dragged kicking and screaming into fall, spouse and I are starting to do our annual review of fall color vs. previous years.

Yes, some people in the Northeast, who enjoy some of the best fall color in the world (we won't get into Vermont vs. Upstate NY-let's just leave it as "northeastern US") treat fall foliage as wine connoisseurs treat wine. 

Where I would slug down a glass of sweet wine (the only type I will drink-I have no wine sophistication whatsoever) some would sniff it, sip it, swish it around, and spit it out.  Then they would talk about the tones of (name as many as you want) cork, chocolate, raspberries, strawberries, tannin, etc.  Same wine, totally different experience.

So it is with fall foliage.

The average person knows what beautiful is when he or she sees it.  So, OK, there are lots of colors dotting the countryside.  Fine.  But the fall foliage his/her mind carries the experiences of many falls past.  Is color coming early, late, or right on time?  Is yellow predominant this year, where last year the red was king?  Are the colors dull due to insect damage or drought?  What is the color mix like?  (I'm talking here, of course, of "wild" trees, not specialty foliage trees.)

And, of course, each type of tree has its own color.  There's the red to orange of maple, the yellow of poplar, aspen and some oaks, the brown of other oaks.

The beauty of the northeast is that there is a color mix.  Colorado, for example, puts on a wonderful show of yellow which I was lucky enough to see back in the late 1970's.  Gorgeous.   But, it is yellow.   Only yellow.  On the other hand, northwest Arkansas, rich in oaks, has a foliage show of....mainly brown, mixed in with a little red of sassafras and yellow of hickory and black walnut.

Now upstate NY, we have it all.  Plus pumpkin farms and fall art festivals.

The really wonderful thing is that all the leaf peepers flock to Vermont, jam up the roads, and ignore the Southern Tier of NY State.  I say, let's keep it that way.  (Sorry, tourism folks).

So this year?  What do the connoisseurs say?

They would say color is probably "on time" (whatever that means, in this age of global warming).  The last two years have been late and the color suffered for it.
The yellows seem to be coming out very nice.

By the Columbus Day weekend, the traditional "last weekend" for everyone to get out and do non-winter activities one last time, it should be looking pretty good.

Of course, in my haze of pumpkins, apples and falling trees, I try to ignore what comes next.


I hate winter.

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