It’s that time of year again, the season when leaf peepers with cameras and iPhones flock to the roads of New England to marvel at our foliage. A lot of locals turn their noses up at the barrage of cars and motorcycles seeking the perfect trees, and the spectacle of foliage in general. I’m not one of those people. I have a major appreciation for the wonders of Mother Nature and I say, come to New England! See our trees! It’s a very busy time for me as a hiker, because peak foliage is such a short and unpredictable span of days, and I want to get all the pictures I can. The foliage has peaked in the past several years around October 20 where I am in Massachusetts. You’ll see fancy maps and articles to the contrary, but take my word for it, in a normal year peak foliage weekend is the weekend closest to the 20th. This year it’s going to be later, probably next weekend, so I have to adjust my hiking schedule.
What follows the high of foliage season tends to be pretty tragic for me: bare, dead trees, the death of the earth. Yeah, as great as fall colors are, this juncture in the four season schedule ushers in other feelings. I’m a summer girl, no questions asked, so seeing the last vestiges of warmth dissipate is very emotional for me. There’s nothing much worse than putting away my shorts and taking out my sweaters. Or, bringing my plants in from the porch and finding places for them in the house. Sure, I could go live someplace that has two seasons. But the interesting truth is that, on the flip side, there’s nothing much better than opening the same storage receptacle of clothing in the spring and rejoicing when I take my shorts back out! In the not so distant future I plan on chasing summer right down to the Mexican border, but until then I’m going to continue with the ritual of the death and life of the landscape, and mourning my shorts.
My hello autumn, good-bye summer depression starts in August. Being a teacher cruelly plays with the concept of what exactly summer is. We head back to school in the later part of August, so when the calendar summer is still in full swing the stirrings of having to be serious again start to hit. When those feelings are conquered by reality the even stronger emotions push in. My beloved mother passed away in the fall. Another coveted summer of my life is in the past. I’m not getting any younger. Time is running out, in the big picture and the smaller one. I wonder if the same thing will still happen, even when I’m free of the restraints of the four seasons? I’m itching to find out.
I’m not a super fan of winter, so I always get a jolt of realization when one of my friends professes love for the coming snow and cold. Some people actually look forward to this stuff! Truth is, I’ll take the white stuff over the crumbling brown landscape of post-foliage autumn. At least it’s pretty, but for me there are conditions to its glamour, the top one being that I don’t have to drive in it. Though I revel in thoughts of my next road trip, you can’t talk me into doing unnecessary traveling in snowy conditions. Nevertheless, I’m not so anti-winter that I can’t find the love for a bright, sunny day with an unbroken blanket of white and temperatures in the mid-thirties.
Thankfully, all these crashing thoughts are temporary. Because then I remember all I have to do and everything I have to look forward to. Writing books. Taking cool trips. Cuddling my bunny. Spending time with people I care about. Planning for a bright future. And, oh yeah, spring. The great thing about the four season calendar is that no matter what winter pulls, life always returns to the earth, it always wins. Warmth always conquers ice and snow, even if winter wins out late in the year. Right now, I’m bracing myself for winter to take over. But first, foliage.
Let’s go, trees! Let’s see some magic!