In Appreciation of Leaves

By Meg Walburn Viviano

When I was younger, I used to think that leaf peeping was for old people. They’re just trees, I thought, incredulous that people would travel to see trees that are just sitting there rooted to the ground, not doing anything.

Then in college, a boyfriend invited me on a road trip to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. There, in the region where Norman Rockwell made his home, fall foliage is such a draw that visitors can book leaf-peeping bus tours, foliage zip line courses, or reserve the fall foliage package at a local inn.

After making the drive to Lenox, Mass., I understood what the fuss was about. Across a glass-smooth lake from where we stood, a line of trees made a solid wall of brilliant red, orange, yellow and brown. They reflected perfectly on the lake, creating a wonderful mirror image—an illusion of trees that extended uninterrupted from sky to water. The sky itself was that sharp, highly pigmented blue you only see in the fall, making a bold backdrop for the reds and oranges.

I took the obligatory photos and headed home with a new appreciation for the leaves that change colors and fall down each autumn.

These days, I most enjoy leaf-peeping on foot. As a runner, I’ve had memorable late-fall mornings on the paths near Loch Raven Reservoir north of Baltimore and at Patapsco Valley State Park. Along Patapsco’s Grist Mill trail, the stunning foliage comes with a river view and even a swinging bridge to cross. During one crisp fall run, some hikers I passed stopped me and pointed across the river: on the opposite bank, perched on a dead tree, was a bald eagle looking regal along the colorful tree line.

As I experienced in both parks, you don’t have to travel to New England or even out to Western Maryland to go leaf-peeping. Some beautiful views can be had right here in Chesapeake Country. And now’s the time to do it. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has officially declared this week “Peak Week” for fall foliage in central Maryland. It’s a simple matter of choosing the right roads or the right hiking trail (and a knowledgeable guide doesn’t hurt either, as you’ll read here).

As we pause to take in the beauty of the autumn leaves before they wither to brown and fall, we also pause to honor our U.S. military veterans. They stood up to serve our country and many came back to lead regular lives. Many of us may interact with veterans on a daily basis and not even realize it. Veterans Day is an opportunity to learn their stories—stories that might otherwise be forgotten. We’re grateful to retired Air Force Colonel John Van de Camp for bringing to light the contributions of Chesapeake Country’s brave young World War II soldiers, who played a pivotal role on D-Day.

We at CBM Bay Weekly thank all military veterans.