I went to New Hampshire in October for my aunt's wedding. My dad's family lives in the northeast, so I'd been out there many times before, but always in the summer. From those summers I remember wildflowers and butterflies and sunlight between the trees. I've always known the northeast as a beautiful, quiet place. I've also always heard that New England is famous for fall foliage, and now I've finally seen it for myself.
The gorgeous foliage doesn't violently "knock your socks off" or "take your breath away." It doesn't jump up in your face and shock you with how amazing it is. It's not loud, or aggressive, and it's not even assertive. It's beautiful and quiet, just like all the summers I remembered. The thing that made the New England colors so unique and so much more compelling than any I'd ever seen was simply their constant presence.
Out there, the woods are dense and the trees are varied. Evergreens, birches, and maples cluster side by side. And the forests are everywhere. They're along the interstate and the dirt roads, they're between and behind the shops along the main street of a small town, and they're up and down the sides of the mountains. From the right vantage point you can look out over a sea of vibrant canopies, cascading over mountains and hills like waves on the ocean.
I visited an old cemetery, surrounded by walls of stacked field stones. It was drizzly, and the damp ground was covered with a thick layer of wet leaves. The tombstones were old and rough. Some of them listed dates of death from the 1850's. Some of them were so worn that I could only make out the places where the names and dates used to be. Farther up the hill, the headstones were newer. Some listed death dates from 2000's, even up through 2010. The cemetery had been there since before the Civil War, maybe even since the time of the American Revolution, and seemed to still be in use.
The weekend was drizzly and slightly foggy at times, which was unfortunate for the wedding activities. We had hoped to take some wedding portraits outside. But the cool thing about the fog is the way it surrounds the mountains, but still lets their tops peak out through the top of the haze. The fog in New England is like none I'd ever seen before, especially at night. But during the day it makes a layer like a blanket in the air, and as the highway hills move up and down, the fog is either above you or below you.
It's a beautiful place. Even more than the woods along the roads that curve back and forth and roll up and down the hills, I love the northeast because it's a place that holds a lot of great family memories for me. It's a place I've romanticized as long as I've been able to remember it. Despite the cold and drizzle that soaked my canvas shoes as I walked through the fallen leaves, it was a gorgeous weekend. The trees were colorful, and the colors were everywhere. This place I've loved since I was a kid showed me a new side of itself.