In its brief lifetime, the leaf is an admirably productive member of the living community, making food (glucose) by mixing sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. In this process, photosynthesis, the sun’s energy is converted and made usable on Earth.
As summer fades and autumn grows stronger, the leaf dies, but does so beautifully. Chlorophyll, a green plant pigment important in photosynthesis, disappears, revealing red, brown, yellow and orange leaves. Eventually, wind, rain, ice and other agents of autumn pull it from the tree and send it wafting earthward.
The patchwork of colors and their graceful fall delights the spirit as well as the eye of the observer. Enthusiastic admirers of this autumn ritual are called leaf-peepers. They visit upstate New York and New England in legions every autumn. Most people travel to their favorite fall color destinations by car, but some travel on special bus or train tours. We are at peak of the season here in the four-county region.
For some, there is beauty enough in visiting a small rural town and drinking in the scenery from the porch of a cozy bed-and-breakfast. Leaf watching is free and fun if you just want to go for a walk, or a run, or paddle in a canoe all by yourself.
Artists, both professional and amateur, flock to scenic spots in the autumn to paint and take photographs. Bicycle enthusiasts can tour area roads on their own or in organized groups.
A ride on horseback through wooded trails features maximum leaves and quiet companionship.
There are some events associated with leaf-peeping that cost a little something, but are well worth considering. Two of those are taking leaf-peeping to the rails, on the Delaware and Ulster Railroad in Arkville or the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad in Milford. For more information about DURR, call (800) 225-4132 or (845) 586-DURR, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, For the C&CV, visit www.lrhs.com or call 432-2429.