Is the lone red leaf on a soft mat of green that I detected this morning a sign of fall?
"One swallow does not a summer make," (Aristotle), a voice inside me resists. One red leaf does not herald a season, just like one flake of snow is not a sign of a coming storm. I try to talk myself out of the winter-coming predications, but I know I am fooling no one.
The reds and the yellows are a sure sign that the seasons are changing. There is no denying it.
I look at the goldenrods in my garden, reaching the peak of their bloom, but my eyes are drawn to the top of the trees. Up there, I find the incriminating proof in the view of several branches that overnight turned a bronze-red.
"Just the weakest link" is always a good explanation. Young branches turn red first, so do sick ones, but those resistant and hardened will not change until late September.
Almost convinced, I walk in to pick up the motel phone to answer the question that will become more and more prevalent in the following days.
"So, when do you think it will be the best time to come see the leaves?"
The changing leaves, or as we call them, the fall foliage, are the big draw to our area in September and October.
Within night my husband and I become the ones to consult with regarding leaves. People from all corners of the US and often Europe who plan their fall vacation in our motel depend on our recollections of past years' foliage and the forecast for the coming season.
Like the infamous New England weather, known for its capricious nature, the foliage can fool even the best nature enthusiasts.
People reminisce about the 'good' years when the colors were so vibrant, they practically shimmered and then try to figure out the mysterious color quandary so they could predict the colors for the coming fall. The success rate is not very high, especially when the weather decides to interfere at the last minute and a sudden storm knocks off all the leaves overnight.
Once October starts, we hold our breath and pray. For the weather to remain calm, for the winds to stir clear into the ocean. For the rain to hold on till the last leaf will land safely on the ground and for the sun to shine in a clear blue sky. This we discovered is the real secret for the assurance of good colors.