Our fall colors are just about at peak right now, with some trees already dropping their leaves and others like the oaks yet to turn. The show stealers at the moment are beech, which are bright yellow, and maples, which can be red, orange, yellow, and sometimes even pink. I think I saw them all at this beaver pond.
This maple was quite red. Oaks are an even deeper red and can sometimes border on purple. When some oak leaves dry they turn pink.
North of Keene on the Ashuelot River the foliage was yellow and green but it seemed like every nuance of each color was represented.
The tree with red leaves in this shot has the bright yellow leaves of a bittersweet vine nearly at its uppermost branches. Invasive oriental bittersweet vines (Celastrus orbiculatus) are as strong as wire and they strangle many native trees by wrapping themselves around the tree’s trunk like a boa constrictor. I’ve seen vines as big as my arm wrapped tightly around trees so as the trees grew they had no room to expand and slowly died. If you want to rid your yard of bittersweet vines this is the perfect time to do so because they’re more visible right now than at any other time of year.
The spread of Oriental bittersweet vines is helped along by humans. At this time of year people use bittersweet vines that have fruit on them to make wreaths and table decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving. The berries are green for most of the summer but slowly turn yellow as fall approaches. Finally the yellow outer membrane splits into three and reveals a single, tomato red fruit. At the end of the season people throw the used vines onto the compost heap or out in the woods and the fruits grow to become new vines. Birds love the berries too, and also help the spread of the plant.
Many people think bright sunshine is the only way to go when viewing fall colors but from a photography standpoint I think the colors are at their best on a slightly overcast day. In this photo the colors seem almost bleached out by the sun.
Keene sits in a kind of bowl surrounded on all sides by hills, and this is one of them.
This is another hillside view, with a favorite shack included for a sense of scale.
The Virginia creepers (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) are beautiful this year. This one had a bit of purple on it and reminded me why my mother loved it enough to plant it on our house.
In my opinion one of the most beautiful shrubs in the fall forest is the maple leaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium.) Its leaves can be red, orange, purple, pink, or even a combination of all of them all before turning to a pale, almost white pastel pink before dropping. You can see both purple and orange on this example.
Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) gets its common name from our early colonists, who noticed that it was very sensitive to frost. Usually by this time of year these ferns would be brown and crisp from frost but since we haven’t had a real frost yet this year this example is slowly turning white. In my experience it’s unusual to see this particular fern doing this. Lady ferns (Athyrium filix-femina) do the same each fall and are usually the only white fern that we see.
If you want to get really close to the colorful foliage rail trails are the perfect place to do it.
Beech leaves glow in the sunshine. If you’ve ever wondered what being inside a kaleidoscope would be like, just walk down a wooded New England trail on a sunny fall day.
Once again this year I missed most of the foliage at Perkins Pond near Mount Monadnock, but seeing the mountain itself was worth the drive. Last fall a Japanese couple, through mostly sign language and broken English, asked me to take their photo in this very spot with the mountain behind them. It was the only time I’ve ever had my hands on an Ipad and I didn’t know what I was doing, but they seemed very happy with the photo. This year I met another Japanese couple here and they had a Nikon DSLR but they didn’t ask me to take their photo. As I was leaving I wondered if I stood here long enough if I’d have a chance to try out every kind of camera made.
I was surprised to see large mats of orange sphagnum moss growing just off shore in Perkins Pond. There wouldn’t be anything unusual about seeing peat moss at a pond’s edge except that these weren’t here the last time I was, and I was surprised by how fast they had appeared. This one even had cranberries growing already on it.
I found this scene last fall and it reminded me so much of scuffling through the dried leaves as a boy in grade school that I had to go back and revisit it. The sight, sound and smell that comes from wading through freshly fallen leaves crisping in the sun are things I’ll never forget.
You might not have the colorful fall foliage that we have here in New England but don’t despair; I can guarantee that nature has something every bit as beautiful for you to see right where you are. The only condition is, it won’t come to you-you have to go outside and find it. Today might be the perfect day to do so.
There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep. ~Edward Abbey
Thanks for stopping in.