Leaf Peeping

It’s been over two weeks since I returned from my first autumn trip to New England, and I find myself dreaming of its changing leaves, crisp air, and apple orchards.

I was visiting the East Coast for the early American history and to see friends. I was not out there specifically to leaf peep – a term I had learned shortly before I left from a friend originally from upstate New York – but inadvertently, I ended up doing just that. How could I not be impressed by the northeastern autumn when it was so different from the kind of delayed and unremarkable Fall I was used to in Southern California?

(To give you perspective, it’s mid-November now and the maple tree outside my house is still 90% green.)

Thanks to my friend Tracey‘s urging and hospitality, I had the opportunity to see more than Boston when I headed up to Massachusetts for the last leg of my trip. And it was such a good decision. I went to places I wouldn’t have thought to visit, and I finally understood why leaf-peeping in New England is on so many people’s travel bucket lists (for example, it’s on my mom’s!).

Never have I seen leaves so vibrant, so ablaze with color. They seemed to glow in their fall finery. With natural beauty like this, it’s no surprise New England birthed transcendentalists and writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same fields, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I felt so soul-soothed by what I saw in the one day I spent in Concord. Its stately colonial houses and foliage-strewn forest paths, combined with a deep sense of literary* (and Revolutionary**) history, were utterly charming.

Sometimes, it takes experiences and sights like these to make you realize what poor tools words can be when it comes to capturing these simple wonders. Sometimes, it’s these simple wonders that make you believe in magic – that maybe somewhere around a fork in the road, a forest that speaks might exist.***

To that end, since there’s no poetry in me that can do justice to the prime leaf-peeping I had in Lowell, Concord and Stow, I’ll borrow words from the literary greats of Concord.

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere in the autumn, as if the earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints. – Henry David Thoreau, Oct. 12, 1852

Wild roses are fairest, and nature a better gardener than art. – Louisa May Alcott

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When the seasonal sights are this glorious, it’s easy to see why people go into raptures about fall. Up here, the colors truly are nature’s fireworks, a spectacular last hurrah before the winter and the cold set in.

No one does Fall like New England.

*Concord: home to many authors - Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott.
**Opening skirmish of the US Revolution happened in Concord.
***Cabeswater from Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle books.

(Poem) Concord Hymn | Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Book) Nature | Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Book) Mosses from an Old Manse | Nathaniel Hawthorne
(Book) The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) | Maggie Stiefvater

5 thoughts on “Leaf Peeping

  1. Yahong says:

    I love the sense of awe and wonder you convey here in your words & photos! I think I might be really too used to fall by now, so it’s fun and interesting to see your perspective. I’ve never heard of leaf peeping — maybe because here you don’t need to travel to see foliage change colours, haha. (To be honest, I would still take your 10C West Coast winter over our falls any day… :P)

    Liked by 1 person

    • literallyalice says:

      Thanks! The term seems to be a Northeastern thing! Friend from upstate New York told us and we thought he was making it up – but no, the internet says it’s real! And no one we told in Massachusetts batted an eye when we said it!

      When Cat and I got back to CA, we were like Wow, everything here is either very green, a sort of diluted yellow, or brown. Not as fun as the New England fall colors, lol. BUT I wouldn’t give up the 10C winter for the world. 🙂


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