An early-ish blog for a Saturday, but I'm not headed for any bloodwork today. Nay, it's my last weekend on the pond with Mr. Bean, as we wrap up our summer kayaking season.
Fortunately, it's supposed to be above 70 today in these parts....and we may be breaking a temperature record tomorrow with temps expected in the mid-80s.
With a bit of Indian Summer in the offing, I'll pause a moment and ponder my favorite season. I know there are folks that live for summer, and spring and winter have their fans, too....but it's fall for me.
It's opposite to what nature is doing, but fall has that feeling of renewal and optimism. With school starting, and sports, and my youth group getting going, September and October usually represent the busiest time of year for me. For those of us with children, the start of the school calendar is a more powerful reminder of the passage of time than even the holidays or the turning of the calendar page.
October and November are also the two best months to be outdoors...the nights are cool and refreshing (and great for outdoor sleeping), the days are often just as warm as the summertime, and most wondrous of all, ALL THE BUGS ARE DEAD!
Ah, but there is always a dark side. New England relies on Columbus Day weekend as a bridge between the busy summer and unpredictable winter ski seasons. It's as reliable as the sunset; the weather cools down, leaves change colors, and millions of people jam the north country as they speed down narrow country highways at 60 mph glimpsing the countryside.
But not this year. The region is rife with speculation, but the word is that all the rain we've had, plus the long end to the summer (it's only now just getting down to the 50s at night) have delayed the color change.
(NECN: Marnie Maclean, Freeport, ME) - They come by plane, car and tour bus to travel New England in search of brightly colored fall leaves.
Columbus Day weekend is a favorite time for leaf peepers, but this year many are asking 'where's the color?’
Every room at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine is booked this Columbus Day weekend.
It is filled with leaf peepers excited to see the fabled New England fall foliage.
"There's hardly any leaves on the trees,” said Ruby McDermott, “almost bare."
But the Inn's gardener says mother nature is leaving many of those guests disappointed. Many maple trees are dropping leaves before turning color and the perennials that normally pop with color are muted.
"You can see color a lot better from those normally."
Many people have noticed this year doesn't look normal.
This is the view from the top of Bradbury Mountain in Pownal this weekend last year, and this is the same view, today; there’s a noticeable difference.
"This is supposed to be your peak color, and we come here,” said Dee Wardzinski from Romeo, Michigan, “and we have more color at home."
The good news for businesses, at least here in Freeport, is leaf peepers plan well in advance, coming to New England color or no color.
"It's all relative, when it's brown or green where you came from anything else is color, not disappointed, not in the least,” said Lou Dinwiddie from Sacramento, California. “I'll let the locals be disappointed."
Biologist Mao Lin with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife studies cycles in nature and believes much of the blame for the delayed and dull foliage season falls on all the rain we've had.
"We had a lot of water, a lot of moisture that might impact color,” said Lin. “A stressed tree just like a stressed person is not going to be pretty."
Lin says there is also scientific debate as to whether climate change may be impacting fall foliage patterns.
He isn't counting out this season yet though. He says if we can get sunny days and cool nights, without a frost, the trees will get the signal to prepare for winter and hopefully give us a burst of color before the leaves fall away.
I don't live in a foliage 'hot zone' here in Metrowest Boston, but we have our spots. I'm still waiting to see any; the trees out my window are all still green, and even the early-turners haven't gone over yet. There's a few brown leaves on the ground, but nothing in between.
But whether or not you have color....it's still hopefully a long weekend where you live. I'll save a discussion about Cristobal Colon and what he means to Italians...and what he also means to the native peoples for some other time.