The past year's weather has thrown off our date books.
Spring came much earlier than "normal." Then, summer left (and is still leaving) a steamy impression on 2012: what it lacked in precipitation, it made up for in heat. And after enduring what felt like a summer directly under the sun, personally, I cannot wait for those crisp, cool nights and mild days that fall brings. Fall is my favorite season: something about the way the chlorophyll-empty leaves stand against a bright blue sky comforts me. But, like many other people, I'm sitting here wondering, "what will autumn be like?" Since the parched summer was something different than what is understood to be normal, would the next season be different as well?
I know I can't say with any degree of certainty what will happen but I can report what I have already seen this year, and what others are seeing across New York.
While driving around in the Southern Tier this past Labor Day, I saw pumpkins for sale at a road side stand. PUMPKINS! Orange as ever, the pumpkins we all see for Halloween are ready to go now.
If this year's pumpkin crop isn't rushing fall forward enough, stores are bringing out fall-themed treats, and have been for a few weeks! I saw those ever-so-tempting Halloween candy displays the second to last week in August in local supermarkets and drug stores. Fall home decorations are already on clearance prices at some places. Even Starbucks has released its pumpkin spice latte
, a favorite among coffee drinkers. It seems like products, natural and synthetic, are just as anxious as we are to put the heat behind us and move onto the cooler times fall brings.
But perhaps the most troubling thing to think about, especially if you love fall for the foliage like me, will be the leaves themselves. Will the foliage be "especially vibrant
" this fall or will the dry summer cause the leaves to drop fast, leaving us wanting more, wandering through a pile of dead leaves in mid-September?
A few trees in my area have already begun to show color. Not whole trees but some leaves scattered around the canopy sport a reddish-brown blend in their pigments. As it turns out, farmers weren't the only ones frazzled by the drought: early color changes could be linked with the lack of precipitation
In the Southern Adirondacks, leaves are already reported on the ground. Pete Olesheski, a naturalist from Up Yonda Farms, predicts a dull, quick foliage season
: "it's going to be kind of a muted year colorwise and it's going to go real quick," he said to the Glens Falls, N.Y., newspaper, The Post Star. Lake Placid's trees are starting to turn color as well