Mother Nature knew: as soon as September hit, the humidity dissipated and the suddenly temperatures dropped, and that familiar back-to-school atmosphere is in the air. It’s a mix of chimney smoke and leaves, brown bag lunches and school bus exhaust, making me want to go out and buy new school supplies. I missed this smell while I lived in Los Angeles for five years, but now that I’m back East, it’s a welcoming moment into fall and a bittersweet end to summer.
With it comes my favorite time of year: leaf peeping time. As a kid I would gather the best leaves and press them in our giant dictionary, where many still reside. The colors would turn starting late September in New England, trickling down through the Hudson Valley and into New York around my birthday in October, and then finally in still-warm November in Washington. Jon and I were lucky to have a perfect sunny fall day for our wedding last year.
I spent my autumn days the way others do in summer: lazy Sunday drives to look at the foliage, picnics, canoeing, carving pumpkins, long bike riding, hiking, apple picking, wine tasting. I and all those elderly couples and Japanese tourists flock East for the sole purpose of all those aforementioned activities, set against a backdrop of reds, oranges and golds. However, it’s a season entirely dictated by weather, though leaves usually follow the same calendar year after year.
Introducing: the Weather Channel’s Fall Foliage map of the entire country. Yes, there’s even foliage in California, but you don’t want to miss it. The interactive map tracks when leaves turn, and locals post photos of their area so you can enjoy the foliage from your office in the city. Click on the part of the country in which you live or would like to visit to get an idea of peak seasons. Then toss on your favorite sweater and jeans, open the sunroof, and enjoy the secondary summer before winter!