The Daily Star
---- — There is a crispness in the air.
The sweltering heat has gone, and the cool nights have set in.
The green, rolling hills of upstate New York have begun to change to their seasonal hues of yellows, oranges and reds.
All of which point to the impending return of fall.
Well, it isn’t impending anymore. It’s here.
Saturday is the first day of autumn, and we couldn’t be happier.
Fall is a beautiful season in the four-county region.
You can’t argue with nature’s artistry of peak foliage season. But experts disagree if peak will be early or on time, or what is causing the (maybe) change in the norm.
Chris Gitro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton, attributed an early changeover to lower-than-normal rainfall during the first half of the summer.
Professor Marc David Abrams, professor of forest ecology at Penn State University, attributed the color change to the “onset of cool weather.”
Ken Smith, executive director of the Chenango County Cooperative Extension, disagreed with both. “Typically, fall foliage is related to day length and not so much temperature.”
Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that experts are predicting an on-track year for fall foliage.
But the drought may have had an effect on the color.
Karl Niklas, a Cornell University professor of plant biology, predicted a weak year for leaf watchers.
“I wish I was wrong, but I’m predicting that this year’s autumn coloration will not be as grand as in years past,” he said in a media release. “... high temperatures and a lack of soil water have stressed trees to a point where many trees are already shedding their leaves and those that have leaves are bearing browned leaves.”
One thing not in doubt is the detrimental effect of this year’s odd weather patterns on the apple crop. Numbers are down and prices are up.
That’s not to say we can’t celebrate the harvest and the season, even if neither is spectacular this year. This time of year is full of events that embrace both.
Farmers’ markets are full of seasonal bounty. There are numerous harvest dinners planned throughout the area. And the upcoming weekends are full of festivals celebrating fall, apples, pumpkins and other staples of the season.
Take the time to breathe in the crisp fall air. Take a walk through your neighborhood or drive through the county to see the autumn hues. Have a community harvest meal. Welcome leaf-peepers from out of the area.
Whatever you do, embrace the season, because in the blink of an eye it will be gone, and we will be facing the ice and snow of winter.