New England Leaf Peeping
There are few sights in nature as spectacular as New England's autumn leaves: a fiery medley of pumpkin orange, school house red and buttery yellow, spread across the landscape like a Persian carpet.
Yet the leaves of some trees in the region have bypassed this step and are already brown, brittle and ready to fall.
Don Smith is chief forester for the state of Connecticut.
Smith says that the drought is a primary factor in what may be an earlier-than-normal fall foliage season this year here at Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Connecticut, as well as in other forests throughout the state.
That's when chlorophyll, the green pigment that helps the tree absorb sunlight and produce food, begins to break down, revealing the brilliant reds, purples, oranges and yellows that are the leaves' true colors. Smith and other forestry experts throughout New England say that while some trees may suffer from the drought, the overall landscape appears healthy and on its way to producing at least average if not excellent fall foliage this season. That's good news for tourist business in New England, where the leaf season's economic impact is an estimated $8 billion. Up in Vermont, probably the most popular destination for fall foliage pilgrims, or "leaf-peepers" as they're called, many local inn keepers say they're too occupied with getting ready for their busiest season of the year to be worried about what drought may or may not do to the foliage. Linda Anelli runs the Deer Hill Inn in West Dover, Vermont.
Anelli says that pundits' predictions about the leaves, which, she points out, have turned without fail every autumn since she moved to Vermont thirty years ago, are about as reliable as the theories passed around the cracker barrel by old timers...theories sometimes as colorful as the foliage itself.
In the final analysis, it may not be lack of rain but too much of it that may prove troublesome to this years fall foliage. With many weeks left in this year's hurricane season, the remnants of any number of tropical storm systems could dump heavy rain in New England's forests, making this season's autumn leaves as fleeting as, well, autumn leaves.
In Hartford, Connecticut, I'm Tom Verde for the Savvy Traveler
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