(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)
I was walking on the campus of UMass Amherst — traveling between lunch and a workshop session for the annual fall conference of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project — when one of my walking companions told a story of moving to the Northeast and being asked by a friend from elsewhere how to know when the Fall Foliage has reached its peak.
We agreed that, if you have lived in the Northeast long enough, you start to get an internalized rhythm of the season, the flow of change, the shift in the forests. To answer the question “when it is peak,” you have to trust your instincts.
It was a beautifully sunny afternoon as we walked and talked about it, and we agreed that we were still in the days “before” the real change from summer to Autumn. There were certainly leaves of red and orange, but still plenty of green, too.
Now, three days later, with a few days of breeze and rainfall and chilling nights, I sense the shift is now underway. Maybe another week to ten days, with some sunny days, and the trees will soon be barren, readying for winter. I can see many browning leaves on the ground now, and some of the early harbinger trees — those wonderful isolated trees that reliably begin their movement early — are becoming all limbs, with fewer and fewer leaves.
If you live in a place long enough, you do sense the rhythm of things, the way the years and even the days progress, and you become attuned to the possibilities of the world in motion. In this, we become sensory scientists, gathering data about the changing world. You only notice, though, when you pay attention.
It’s nearly peak.
Peace (arriving in splendor),