Sunday, September 7, 2008

Autumn Guessing Game

We have an annual guessing game here in Western North Carolina (WNC). It begins in early September and while anyone can play, the stakes are much higher for some than for others. The question? When will will the leaf color peak? The inns and motels get dozens of calls every day asking that question.

WNC has a brief respite from tourists from Labor Day until the fall leaf tours begin. During that respite, local businesses gear up for the onslaught of people coming to the mountains to look at the fall color. Autumn displays fill the shop windows. Apples, pumpkins, squash and dried corn await the new customers. All the tourists want to come during the "peak." The truth of the matter is, you can drive a relatively short distance and climb several thousand feet or go down several thousand feet. If it isn't peak color here, you won't have to drive long to find it.

There is no scientific method for predicting the leaf color with any accuracy, but almost everyone who lives here has an opinion. This year, the opinions are quite varied. Some say the trees are so stressed because of the drought, there will be little color as the leaves simply turn brown and fall off. Others say the trees are so stressed because of the drought, the color will be even more brilliant that ever.

One thing is certain. The leaves are beginning to have a dull look to them and as sure as anything, they will indeed turn. Exactly when, and for how long, and with what degree of brilliance is still part of the Autumn Guessing Game.

I have the best of all worlds, for I love the mountains in all seasons. Even in the dead of winter, the mountains are magnificent and awe-inspiring. So, I'm prepared for lots of color, and not-so-great color. I will love it just the same.

Here are some shots from last week, all taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway. You may notice that some of the trees in certain areas are already beginning to change. Some of these areas are above 4,000 feet. I will take this section of the Parkway often until it closes for winter, so you can see the changes that fall brings to the mountains.

We are hoping for rain from Hurricane Ike since we got none from Gustav or Hanna. At the same time, we are hoping there will not be extensive damage to others from the storm. The trees desperately need more rain to carry them through the winter.


Cicero Sings said...

Such beautiful views from the Parkway ... if I lived where you do ... I'd take that route as often as possible too!

We haven't had a frost yet ... our trees aren't showing signs quite yet ... though some of the underbrush is going.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Carolyn: Since the leaf turn depends on a frost to turn the green off it is a hard guess as to when you have the peak. I hope you got the rains from the hurricane.

Jayne said...

There is nothing more beautiful than the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall. Glorious photos Carolyn. Can't wait to see it as the colors emerge.

The Birdlady said...

Those mountains are absolutely stunning! Every time I have ever been in them, I realize again how magnificent this earth is! And, of course, after my granson announced that our part looked like they have broccoli on them, I think that too! Broccoli-covered mountains! About to change to carrot and apple and potato colors.

100 Thoughts of Love said...

I was lucky enough to spend 5 days at Grandfather Mountain a week ago...and even more fortunate to be coming back Oct 18...i am hoping dead center of Oct will be close enough for Autumn leaves "SOMEWHERE"...Like you though, I have been there when the leaves dropped off dead and brown, when there were NO leaves due to recnet storms, and also when they were at all their fiery brillance...And all were good!

Dog_geek said...

I'm the same way - I love the mountains in the Fall, regardless of what colors the leaves are. And here's hoping for some Ike rains, since we barely got anything from Hannah also.

Anonymous said...

What wonderful vistas. Quite the scenic route.

Shelley said...

Those beautiful views just make me wish I was there!

NCmountainwoman said...

Cicero - We do try to drive this once a week.

Fishing guy - It's not looking promising for rain, but we always hope.

Jayne - I agree, unless it's the Blue Ridge Parkway in the spring, or in the summer, or in the winter.

Helen - Your grandson is absolutely right. Sometimes the mountains do look broccoli covered.

Pat - Everyone wants to be here at the absolute peak, but I agree with you, they are lovely at all times.

Dog Geek - Here's hoping you do get some rain.

Science guy - It is truly a scenic highway.

Shelley - It's a great place to visit.

A New England Life said...

It's been 18 years since I've been to the Blue Ridge Parkway but it's a beauty I could never forget. Can't wait to see the Fall pictures!