Yvonne Osborne at The Organic Writer is hosting the Festival of Trees for July. I’m all for trees, so I thought I’d try my hand at a post.
Here in New England, it seems that we are always waiting for things. We wait for the first snow and then pray for it to melt. We wait for the weather to warm, for the high pitched bleat of tree frogs in the marsh, for the green fingered daffodils to fork in front of stone walls, for the smell of lilacs. We long for perennials to bloom, tomatoes to ripen, and then temperatures to drop. We hope for plowed roads in winter, for the damp to fade in the spring; for rain to replenish the gardens. We anticipate dry snow for skiing, hot sun for the strawberries, the taste of just-picked blueberries in August. We look forward to the aroma of damp leaves and the first fire we light in the fireplace.
But of all of these things, there is probably nothing more deserving of our expectation than the annual transformation of our trees, the explosions of red, yellow and orange fireworks that blast off through thick woods during autumn’s foliage carnival. This party though, seems to creep up on those of us who live here. Fall seeps in via the patch of burnt-umber on the tree by the market in mid-August, through the crimson poison ivy vine twisting around a pine deep in the woods.
On our highways though, it’s all about awareness. Tour buses stack up, heading to New Hampshire and Vermont, to the mountains where curving roads ribbon through passes splashed with buckets of dye. Prudent New Englanders know better than to attempt a weekend drive to the places these leaf peepers frequent; when possible, we stick to back roads, or travel during the week. Starting in September, local news broadcasts include foliage reports. Websites are dedicated to leaf updates and newspapers print colored diagrams predicting “peak color.” This is how we locals learn where not to go.
As hordes of visitors gaze out our overlooks, snapping up bottles of maple syrup and cracking their first lobsters, we wait, going about our lives, while scarlet filters across the tops of maples and yellows drift through stands of birch and ash. Until one day, when driving down a road, up a hill, or walking past a clutch of trees, we stumble upon a luminious pallet and realize that this is it. This is as good as gets. We take a moment to breathe in a waving patchwork of color, then cross our fingers that we get one more glimpse. After all, the next big wind will eliminate the show.
It happens some years that an unexpected storm hits before we look up, and we miss the illustration. So I’m an advocate of packing a camera for every trip to the grocery store, because you never know. On the way to finish the weekly shopping, it’s just possible to chance upon the perfect tree.