Some of the most beautiful things in the natural world are also the most fleeting.
A rainbow may last just a moment. The pink light of sunrise, or alpenglow on a mountain lasts but a few minutes longer. Morning mists linger for an hour or so after sunrise, and a winter snowfall may hang in the trees for a day after a storm. By these measures, the beauty of New England’s Autumn season lasts quite a long time. But at season’s end, it still feels so short, so fleeting.
As the autumn draws to a close, it’s nice to look back at the season that was. After a hot, rainy summer, the change of seasons brought a dramatic change to the weather pattern. Day after day of clear skies and cool, dry air accelerated the foliage season, and increased it’s vibrancy. Colors came on a bit early in most locations, with a wide color palette on display.
It was a banner year for the red maples across the entire region, and a prolonged year for the oaks. The sugar maples were bright, but seemed to move through peak and to the ground a bit too quickly, which may be the only knock on the whole season. Color hung on in the forest under-story for a long time, and some good color can even still be found in Boston and Newport, as well as on the Cape and Islands.
Some told me that they thought it was the best season in a long time. For me though, it was just the way an autumn season in New England should be.
As we enter November, we are are surrounded by a landscape in act two of the transition from green to white. The first act is light, upbeat and has a celebratory feel. September and October feature fairs and festivals and fun, in addition to the gorgeous foliage color. The second act is dark, ashen and solemn. Trees are increasingly bare, the palate increasingly gray. Days get shorter, skies become cloudier, flakes of snow fall, but don’t yet linger.
There is a sense of real urgency now to the remaining work around the house. A few leaves remain, but leaf peeping becomes a distant afterthought in the short season before winter settles in. Rake the leaves, put the gardens to bed, split and stack the wood, break down the deck set. We must also stabilize the tractors, the lawn mowers, the boat and the motorcycles so they start up in the spring. Winter is coming, fast.
New Englanders, by and large, do not hibernate though. The coldest season still offers so much opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skiing and playing pond hockey are all things we can look forward to in the months ahead. And there will be color too, from the multi-colored holiday lights that will soon fill neighborhoods and town centers, to the winterberry that already fills the wetlands where the red maples recently finished their show. Winters are hard, but they have a beauty all their own!
Eventually, winter will end, spring will come and the cycle will bring us back to autumn again.
We at Yankee Magazine and YankeeFoliage.com want to thank you for following along with us this fall, and for all your reports and photos that you submitted to our live map and Facebook page! As a final note, we are accepting entries into our New England Fall Foliage Contest through November 15th. If you captured a great shot of our fall colors this year, don’t forget to enter it before the deadline!
We’ll see you back here next August!