By Judy Reiss
I don’t know about where you live, but where I do, the colors this year have been magnificent! I have lived in the Mad River Valley since 1959 off and on and then permanently since 1961 and I am always amazed at what Mother Nature has in store for us! And, of courses, the fall is one of those seasons that you can’t really describe to anyone.
The first year I was actually here long enough to enjoy the foliage was in 1959, I think. And I vividly remember standing outside of the farm house where I was and looking across the valley to be breathless at the tremendous show of vivid colors of all the trees. Believe me, where I lived as a child and young person in New Jersey, I don’t think the trees did anything. And if they did, the unfortunate weather made it impossible to see. So, here I was in Vermont and my eyes really couldn’t believe what they saw. Of course I had heard of the colors in Vermont in the fall but I just didn’t realize that it was actually true. And so here I was, standing all by myself and drinking in all these gorgeous colors. Now it is a long, long time later and although I don’t remember what I did last week, I do remember thinking that this was the place I wanted to live when I graduated from college because it truly was paradise!
And just a side note, when fall became winter I was also was astounded that it snowed every day, which meant that the landscape was always winter, pure winter white. And back then they didn’t cut the snow banks every day so I thought that I was in fairyland! Now, I must admit that the winters and the snow never really lived up to my expectations, although I don’t really know what they were. Heaven only knows what I thought a Vermont winter would be, but I do know what the diverse winters have taught me and that is you have to be on your toes and be willing to take whatever comes!
But let’s talk about this year and the wonderful foliage. It may not be true, but it seems to me that the color has lasted longer this year than most. I don’t really know when it started but I do know that certain trees decide to change from green to either red, orange or gold. They don’t seem to care that their neighbors are still flourishing with green leaves. Nope, they are just ready to turn into a vibrant color and they do! And I think those forerunners are the same ones every year. And finally, although what seems slowly, all their neighbors do the same thing. And before you know it, the hills and your front yards are ablaze with color. And that is exactly what happened this year. But what I think is a little different from last year, the colors have stayed gorgeous for quite a while. Today, although the radio and their experts say that peak was last weekend, appear to still either be at peak or getting ready to peak! The trees outside our house are still gorgeous and although a few leaves have fallen off, not too many have left. And if you look across the valley from our house, you would not believe a single leaf has fallen and that it would be impossible for the view to be a single bit better.
So you know what we are seeing? We are seeing Vermont at its finest! And why or how Mother Nature has decided to paint each and every leaf a fabulous color and then keep them on their individual tree, nobody knows! And I think the expert who tries to figure out what Mother Nature has in store for us never really gets it right. I would assume the best way to predict would be to look out the window because what they think is right today will probably be wrong tomorrow.
I hope that each and every one of you has the opportunity to still look outside and see the gorgeous display given to us and free of charge! And if you read this and it is too late for an awe-inspiring por-trait, look outside and find the one tree who has decided to wait and be the last one to drop its leaves. And when you find one that still has a ruby red cluster of leaves or an awe-inspiring gold, thank the tree for this fantastic gift. And if it has shed a few of its colorful presents, pick up a few and take them into the house, press them between the leaves of your favorite book and give yourself the opportunity to marvel at their wondrous colors in the cold and frosty winter months. And you could take a few minutes to thank Mother Nature and the State of Vermont for this truly magnificent gift.