It’s the season. They are officially out there…leaf addicts. They jump on buses in search of the perfect foliage red. Armed with their cameras and sketchbooks, they come from near and far to witness this once a year event that happens only in certain parts of the world – the moment when the leaves on the sugar maples, the oaks, dogwoods, my favorite the sourwoods, and the sumacs turn into bright, burning reds. This is New England in the Fall.
In my local town of Ashfield, MA, we celebrate this event with a Fall Festival. The whole town turns out. It is a tiny town of 1,700 but that weekend Main Street looks like a movie set. There are apple sellers, the fabulous Double Edge Theater performing at Elmer’s Store, there are the Morris dancers and music on the main stage, and of course interspersed between them all are the out-of-towners and the leaf addicts. At the town hall, artisans sell their wares while apple pie and local cheeses compete with the fried dough and cotton candy. There’s only one winner – there always is only one inevitable winner – the fried dough with maple cream and confectioner’s sugar. It’s so bad; it tastes so good.
More importantly, if you are lucky and the sky is blue when the leaves begin to hit peak, you realize that this is a moment; a dance to the music of time. The birds have flown, the dragonflies are hanging in, and the occasional bee is scraping the last piece of pollen from my hydrangeas and windflowers. It is a chance to reflect and enjoy and a chance to socialize before the wood piles replace the perennial gardens and winter sets in. Before the snows arrive after Thanksgiving and those beautiful fall days are a million miles away. The magic of New England, the magic of our town of Ashfield, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.