The Beauty of Fall

Fall is my favorite season here in the mid-Atlantic region of the States. Back in the UK, autumn’s dominant color is grey — grey clouds, grey skies, grey mood — with a background of soggy brown that gradually fades into chill winter. (Yes, I know, places like Cumbria and Scotland can be beautiful in October but I grew up in Leicester and London — so, grey.) But here in suburban Philadelphia, fall is a glorious riot of color, with trees and shrubs erupting into every conceivable shade of the spectrum from bright lemon yellow through vibrant orange and all the way to deep, russet burgundy.

These pictures were taken over the past month in my neighborhood. Apologies for the hasty composition — they’re just snaps taken with my phone (usually with an impatient dog tugging on the leash, irked that her morning walk was being interrupted yet again).

I have no clue what these trees and shrubs are called (again, city girl). But I invariably walk around in October and early November sporting a daft smile, entranced by the beauty


I had expected to be able to post these a few weeks ago, complete with a panorama shot of my street at its most colorful; but the weather has been unusually warm for the past few weeks, which seems to have confused the trees no end.


Some turned color back in late September; others are only now getting around to it.


In addition to the riot of color, there’s a distinct odor to fall — and it’s not moldy leaves and damp clothing. Every shop from the corner store to the largest supermarket has a distinct background whiff of pumpkin spice, perhaps with a hint of cranberry. There’s an entire aisle of pumpkin-flavored products at the local Trader Joe’s; the local bakery has cranberry-nut or pumpkin muffins; and Starbucks is serving up its annual “pumpkin spice latte” (which always strikes me as a dreadful thing to do to a perfectly decent cup of coffee, but some people love the stuff).

The fall weather is mostly wonderful. There’s the odd day of chill, driving rain but most of October into November the days are crisp and clear. Part of the delight of fall is the sense of relief after the often-brutal heat and humidity of the summer months. After 30 years in this country I still wilt when the temperature hits 90 degrees (32 celsius) with a humidity level to match.

Except this year. Instead of topping out just over 50 degrees fahrenheit each day (that’s about 10 degrees celsius), the temperature has stayed in the 60s most days, occasionally getting as high as 70 (21 celsius).

This must be why the squirrels are far more laid back than usual for the time of year. Usually, by mid-November they’re scurrying around everywhere, frantically burying everything potentially edible in preparation for winter. I don’t know if they cue their behavior off the trees or the temperature, but I have’t seen near as much scurrying as usual. Which bodes ill for the squirrels this winter.

About abroadintheusa

An expat Brit who's lived and worked in the USA for more than three decades.
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