Sunday, October 23, 2005

A fallen fall

Fall is ordinarily my favorite season. I love it when the air starts getting that snappy crispness. Then some time in late September I see the first few patches of startling red in the maples. Each day after that a new tree turns red, and then the oranges and yellows appear, and the whole thing builds to that glorious symphony of natural beauty we call fall.

It doesn't hurt that the sky is often powerfully blue, the grass still green, and the weather good for almost any activity, including just walking around and savoring it all. Here in New England we drink it in, trying to store the sensations to help us get through the long hard winter.

I don't want to gloat, but while you may see these images on a calendar, we see them all around us:




My favorite is the lowly sumac, a weed that grows freely and doesn't look like much in summer but turns into a shimmering glow of superbly and subtly mixed colors come fall:


But don't worry; I'm not gloating any more, and there's no cause for envy of New Englanders this year. Fall has been more or less a bust. A combination of factors, especially the rain and lack of sunlight, seems to have caused the worst fall in my memory, and I've lived in New England almost continually since 1969 (here's a bulletin-board discussion of the sorrowful situation from a bunch of leaf-peeping photographers. And here's the science of the whole turning-colors thing, from the US National Arboretum.)

Some trees do have a bit of tepid color, with mostly shriveled or mottled leaves. Many trees still sport green leaves, a thing ordinarily unheard-of at this time of year. Another bunch went from green to brown without passing through a colorful stage. Added to that, it feels as though we live in Seattle-on-the-Atlantic: rain and gloom, day after gray day.

Makes a person grumpy.

18 Comments:

At 5:43 PM, October 23, 2005, Anonymous benning said...

I'm living in Largo, Florida, just south of Clearwater. No reds, golds, or any other autumn color. I was reared in Pennsylvania, so I remember the spectacular changing of the leaves - we had Maples in my neighborhood!

I miss the change. But not the cold!

 
At 7:44 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger camojack said...

Nice pictures. Here in PA, it's still mostly green...

 
At 7:50 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have not noticed much red this year, which is a disappointment.

 
At 8:24 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger ExPreacherMan said...

We live 20 miles south of Miami, just about 12 hours from the arrival of hurricane Wilmer. Our trees will be warm and green all winter.. with aome bright oranges on the sea-grape trees.. Y'all slosh in the snow this winter while we bask in the greens and warm winter breeze.. The Lord is gracious!!

 
At 9:09 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger an unrepentant kulak said...

Sorry to hear that the change of seasons has fallen short of expectations this year! As a largely season-oblivious Californian most of my life, I had the good fortune of being introduced to real Fall during college in Connecticut ... along with that other thing people call "weather" that usually seems to follow...

Make you a deal. If you don't gloat about the colors, and getting to make snow angels in a few months, I won't gloat about the temperate California winters and enjoying lunches outside in January. ;-)

 
At 9:10 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger an unrepentant kulak said...

Thanks for the lovely pictures, by the way!

 
At 9:20 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger Meade said...

Not gloating either but we have had a spectacular Autumn so far here in southwest Ohio. Here's a tree that is lovely four seasons of the year but especially in the fall when it emits from it's bark the most delicious fragrance, wafting and coy. I highly recommend it if you have the right spot for it in your garden.

 
At 11:44 PM, October 23, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

unrepentant kulak: I lived in LA for a year, and I have to say that I didn't like the lack of a winter. Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy cold and snow--for a while. Our winters are a bit too long, but a balmy Christmas and New Year's didn't really appeal. So there!

 
At 12:42 AM, October 24, 2005, Blogger Foobarista said...

My only experience with a "real winter" was in Beijing one year. Basically, Beijing has weather comparable to Boston, although summer is the rainy season so there's little snow. The sun can be dangerously bright in January, when it can be below zero (Fahrenheit, not sissy Celsius), and walking outside unawares will freeze your fanny, along with everything else.

Even though I'm a native Californian, I do like a bit of cold weather too; we go to Yosemite in the height of winter to hike and camp at least once a year. Winter is the best time to do the valley floor hikes, IMO.

In the SF Bay Area, we have just enough cold for you to be aware that it isn't summer, without overdoing it (ie, snow that you have to shovel). And our family has a stranding tradition of celebrating New Year's Day on the - rather cold - beach...

 
At 1:34 AM, October 24, 2005, Blogger an unrepentant kulak said...

Maybe you'd find the S.F. Bay Area a better compromise then. Plenty of seasonal snow to be had at Tahoe or Yosemite, you know ... on an opt-in basis. :-)

 
At 4:58 AM, October 24, 2005, Anonymous Paul said...

I too like the first hint of Fall and that crispness in the air that kind of takes your breath away. In South Carolina it is a good time of the year.

 
At 9:37 AM, October 24, 2005, Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Divine Retribution. That's what Vermonters get for voting for Dean.

Or, It has to do with Global Warming.

I'm flexible.

 
At 10:25 AM, October 24, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

Fall is the time of bonfires and apples

 
At 7:45 PM, October 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Along with southern Ohio, I can say that this is the best fall in Kansas City that I have seen in the 5 years since we have moved here. It must bee the cool weather, which got here unseasonably early - it is usually quite warm into November. Being from NH, I am a real fall snob, but a few trees look as spectacular as those in NH/MA!

 
At 8:04 PM, October 24, 2005, Blogger Asher Abrams said...

Now you've got me going. I do feel a twinge of nostalgia for my native New England. (OK, Connecticut isn't the "real" New England, but we do get four seasons up there.) Thanks for the beautiful photos, even if this year's autumn isn't quite up to par.

Here in Oregon, winter means long periods of overcast skies, with or without rain. I actually find grey skies very lovely in their own way, when there's sort of a gentle silver color on everything.

I spent four years in the San Diego area (the self-proclaimed "finest city" in America) and enjoyed some of the "best" weather in the continental US. Well, you know the old saying, "another sh***y day in paradise"? That pretty well sums up the winterless wonderland of southern California. After four years of those sh***y days, I was ready to leave.

 
At 1:05 AM, October 25, 2005, Blogger Bookworm said...

My suspicion is that your "tepid" fall day still outshines what passes for fall here in the Bay Area. This is my favorite time of year and the only time, every year, when I vaguely regret that we don't live in the Northeast. The rest of the time, I'm so grateful for my temperate climate -- although I do wish it would rain just a little bit more.

 
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