Confessions of a Leaf Peeper
I am shameless. Despite all the beauty of the four seasons, I make no apologies that autumn is hands down my favorite. I thrill in the anticipation of sweltering Augusts rolling into cooler Septembers. I wear my sweaters and boots too early, enduring sweaty days, and often decorate my house with mums and pumpkins when summer should still be the main attraction…but I don’t care. I adore autumn.
As a child, the rest of the year was just a build up until fall hit and then it was a full calendar of festivities. Wading through a yard full of crunching leaves and smelling that earthy must was balm to my soul. Watching the grocery stores display myriads of jewel-toned mums and a thrilling assortment of warty gourds and impossibly perfect pumpkins, I found myself overwhelmed by my love for the season and wondered if the other three were really even necessary. I reveled in unearthing warm sweaters that were like old friends and stashing the carefree clothing of summer aside. There was something about the drone of the cicadas blending into a peaceful cricket symphony and the transition of heat into the relief of cooler days that always excited me and stirred my squirrel instinct. The glory of those childhood autumn days still thrills me to my core.
It was not until I was in my 20’s that I realized that this psychological phenomenon extended beyond my little world. There were people out there called LEAF PEEPERS much to the Northeastener’s chagrin, that were obsessed with the changing of the leaves. They made charts and followed extensive algorithms that factored in moisture, temperature, and daylight to figure out the pinnacle of the changing season. Hotels were booked months in advance and scouts made daily checks to see if the theories were accurate. I thought I was a fall freak until I discovered this subculture of people. Dendrophiles are categorized as people who have a deep love of trees and forests. When you add the extra feature of vibrant color, the euphoria of cooler temperatures, and autumnal obsession, you have a stew of emotions that is quite honestly, mania. I had found my people.
My sister Melissa and I have experienced some amazing leaf peeping over the years. My favorites to date have been Weston, Vermont and Sleepy Hollow, New York and I have included a few images from those visits. I love knowing that there are so many little townships and villages bursting with color that are just waiting to be discovered. Picturesque farms, covered bridges and gleaming white steeples that stand proudly against the breathtaking tapestry of fall foliage. Each one is a jewel and there is nothing like rolling into a quaint town that you have never seen before, wandering down pristine main streets with bustling general stores, and smelling fresh cider doughnuts. Just thinking about all of the places I have yet to discover has my gypsy spirit raging to run away on an adventure.
The Northeast holds the title for the best place to leaf peep but don’t get your feelings hurt. With that title comes a lot of tourists and they share the roads with scores of lookie-loos that have come to experience a piece of their magic. The blazing glory of autumn is widespread and there are glorious versions of fall fantasias all across the country. Different regions boast of unique colors and combinations but they are all examples of nature’s glory. When I relish in the cardinal red and fiery orange performance that my own towering maples put on for me each year, I love knowing that their beauty is as close as my own front yard.
We only have a few weeks left until the leaves will be at the peak of their color but there is still time. Stash some flannels in the car, grab a hot cider and steal away on a road trip to wonder at the glory of autumn. Because so many states have had a wet summer, the colors should be glorious this year so bundle up and head to the woods for Mother Nature’s spectacular. Here are some suggestions for the best places to enjoy the fall foliage and happy peeping!