The Quest

When does an obsession start? Who really knows, but you may wake up one day and find yourself in the middle of one. It starts slowly, maybe even with a reasonable idea, but then it overtakes you. It happened to me this autumn—I became obsessed with seeing the glory of leaves changing color. This is a story that is enhanced by pictures, some of those enhanced as well, as you will see.

It started in mid-September when we were in Seattle visiting our daughter and grandkids. I took the three-year-old for a walk and we collected leaves that had already fallen.

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Later, when our grandson was playing in the band during their high school football game, I scouted for changing leaves.

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But it was too early for Seattle, which would be glorious by October.

I told myself that it was fine—I was just warming up my skills because we were to leave ten days later for a trip that would begin in Quebec. We’d board a cruise ship in Montreal, traveling on the “Fall Medley Cruise” up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Seaboard. “Mother Nature’s Paintbrush,” the cruise line’s brochure said. “Imagine a land so transformed by color that even the commonplace becomes extraordinary. A walk through the woods is like stepping into an autumnal kaleidoscope.”

Maybe it was this description, which started me on being a crazy person. I fell for the hype, hook, line and sinker. I expected to draw my curtains in the morning and be presented with the kaleidoscope described. Not to be. Quebec was a jewel: charming and unique. But the trees were green.

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On the train to Montreal, I was encouraged when I saw patches of changing leaves along the tracks. But it turned out that was an anomaly.

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It was chilly and crisp, but the leaves were proudly green.

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I was still hopeful. With the cold temperatures, the leaves had to turn soon, I thought. And we were going way north to Nova Scotia, so that would certainly do the trick, right? Wrong.

IMG_6653Above is what we saw. Below is what we could have seen.

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It was when we were in Maine that I became aware I was obsessed. We’d had a tour guide take us to Kennebunkport from Portland, Maine so we could visit friends and eat at the Clam Shack, which has the best fried clams anywhere in the world. On the way back, I saw some trees along the highway that were crimson. “Stop the car,” I yelled. As I stood on the side of the highway, I saw my traveling companions shooting me questioning looks. The question: Has she gone nuts?

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It wasn’t as if I hadn’t had this happen to me before. I remember being in Boston one year at Halloween. “All a yuz shouda been herah last week,” I was told.

On our return to the West Coast, we stayed a couple days in Seattle. “Finally, “I said to my husband, “we’ll see some autumn color.”A day earlier, maybe. But a storm had blown in and blew the leaves off most of the trees. I know because I took a walk with my camera to find them. An hour later, I returned, with little to show for my effort.

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Finally home, my neighbor made me feel a lot better about all the greenery we’d seen. “One year when we were back there, the leaves were so technicolor, you needed sunglasses,” he said. I’m sure he’s still wondering why I doubled over in laughter.

I did a little research on Fall Foliage, which, BTW, has become big business for the Northeast. Cruise ships disgorge hundreds of Medicare Tourists daily during this period—we were as numerous and pesky as fleas on a barn dog. I had evidence that I wasn’t alone in my quest for florescent foliage. You can even download an APP that will keep you updated as to when the leaves are reaching their peak.

But why is this so unpredictable? New England Fall Foilage Central says “the unpredictable factors that influence the rate at which leaves change colors are rain, the amount of sugar in the leaves, the number of daylight hours and temperatures….The three-day weekend around the Columbus Day holiday is often associated with peak foliage in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, but there are no guarantees.”

Really? Thanks for the heads up!

And by the way, the photo below was taken on October 15!Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 1.30.49 PM

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5 responses to “The Quest

  1. Pingback: The Quest | A Corner of My Mind

  2. Barb Thal Schroeder

    Thank you for this. I’m sitting here waiting to go to an appointment for a root canal. Your story took me out of this place of anxiety to a place where beauty, be it green or technicolor was waiting. I wish you had written a book! Thank you so much.
    Love, Barb Thal

  3. Good one, Cyndy – you took me back to my high school days when we were stationed at an Air Force base Maine. When the leaves turned – and they really did turn – it signaled snow would soon fall and we’d be shivering at the bus stop waiting for our ride to school each morning in the pre-dawn hours. 🙂 Sending hugs, LT

  4. Thanks! First thing I’ve written since September.
    Sending hugs to you too!

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