Any number of things can happen with the color

Golden perfection.

As you likely know, trying to record the changing colors is a challenge. Does your camera ever get the hues and shades to match what you’re seeing? Or is it usually either too cool or too garish? How about those of you who are instead using watercolors, oils, pastels, or acrylic?

One spoiler for a photo, as I’ve found the hard way, is utility lines along most roadways. They’re the prime culprit among a host of other distractions your eyes don’t catch but the lenses do. This year, I was on guard and enjoyed the color in those stretches without stopping to take a shot.

Since most of Maine’s forests is evergreen, I scoped out stretches of deciduous trees free of those intrusions before the color change and kept checking in weekly, at minimum. In my case, the core of the route was an unpaved lane in the Baring district of the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the country roads getting there.

There’s no way of predicting how things will develop. Drought, blight, storms can take a toll.

But we know what will follow. Boy, do we.

Here’s a look at how it all unfolds here.

It is an invitation to kayak.
Round Pond.
How swiftly it passes.
Even when half of the leaves have already fallen, there’s more to come.
Loud geese take flight. Quaking aspen and birches give the forest a dominant range of yellows.
By midmonth, the palette is turning somber.

And if you want to see what I experienced in New Hampshire, go to my Chicken Farmer blog, where I’ve also posted in-depth reflections on the soul of New England itself. The posts and slideshows appear in the New England Spirit category from August through October 2013.


It doesn’t always have to be spectacular

A fringe of intense red in swampy ground is often a vanguard of the changing foliage.

Let me be honest and admit that the most amazing fall foliage I’ve seen was in 1970 in the Susquehanna Valley of New York and neighboring Pennsylvania. I’m not sure how it would stack up today, if I had a way of reviving the actual color, but the experience was unlike any before or since.

I was fresh out of college – free of being cooped up on campus and indoors. I had my own wheels and a job that had me free by midafternoon, when the angular sunlight was kicking in. And the local forests blended the species of New England with those of the middle Appalachians. What I had known before was Ohio and Indiana, without the big foothills that propped the forests up before my eyes like giant canvases or, from the crests, arrayed them below me like vast quilts punctuated with villages and farm fields and meadows.

I suspect another major factor was a killing frost by late September, which would intensify the color and make, officially, Indian summer. With global warming, that frost has been delaying until all of the leaves have fallen.

All the same, living in New England for nearly half of my life now, I recognize how profoundly the autumn change strikes the region. My in-depth reflections and accompanying photos from New Hampshire are found in the archives of my Chicken Farmer blog. Do go there, if you can. The posts and slideshows appear in the New England Spirit category from August through October 2013.

What I’m now encountering is Coastal Downeast Maine, with its own variations. The forest is largely evergreen, which of course stays green. But it does provide a solid background for the deciduous trees as they change.

Having written that, I encounter an early morning drive across stretches where everything is perfect. The foliage is prime, a full range of the palette, nothing holding back. The temperature’s still chill, so maybe they’ve already had that hard frost up here. Better yet, the sunlight’s brilliant buttery and straight-on, rather than overhead, illuminating the leaves from the side facing me.

It reminds me of other “oh, wow!” epiphanies in northern New England that no doubt would equal or even surpass the year further south that set the standard.

So here’s a taste of how it happens around here.

The trees don’t all change color at the same time.
Evergreens do provide a strong background.
A few dramatic splashes.
It’s not always the panoramic view that counts.
On the other hand, when you’re faced with this at a bend in the road, how can you not be awed?

One day, October

1, the hokku

Ripe orange descending
And then the sharp scythe new moon
With her consort, Venus


2, the long version

Orange-fruit globe ascending
Silvery lakes between fog-wisped forests
Many miles intervening

Same orange glop descending
And then the sharp scythe new moon
With her consort, Venus

In praise of instant pudding

I’d give you a photo, but it would look too bland, unless topped with whipped cream and maybe a cheery cherry.

But the packs are cheap and a stir to make.

Even the cooking-required varieties are simple.

It’s a dish dumb guys really need to have up their sleeves.

We can’t live solely on frozen pizza, can we?


Actually, I’ve been pretty pizza-free. Grilled cheese sandwiches fill the void nicely, yum-yum, smothered in sliced pickles. Or humus, if I’m observing Orthodox Advent.


So much for my image as a snob. Please pass that turkey and mashed  potatoes and gravy and save me a couple of slices of the pumpkin pie.

And don’t forget to say grace or take a moment of grateful silence.