A mixture of fall color with a hint of summer as the leaves have been slow to change this season. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The yellows, reds, oranges and purples of autumn may be more or less brilliant depending on the year, but Andy Fast always finds the season incredibly beautiful.
Fast, the University of New Hampshire Extension forester in Belknap and Strafford counties, spends a lot of time outdoors.
He is diplomatic on the question of how this year stacks up against others.
“I find this to always be an amazing time of year,” he said. “When I'm out in the woods, it's just spectacular.”
He's heard from people who say this year's fall foliage season was a bit shorter or is ending a little sooner.
He recommends the fall foliage page on the VisitNH.gov website, which tracks the progression of the foliage season by region of the state.
“It seems like the season can vary from year to year, but a lot of it is perception,” Fast said.
The perception of Linda Kohn, function coordinator at the Inn on Newfound Lake is that the color has been a little delayed this year.
“It seems like it's not quite as bright as expected,” she said. “Usually after a good rain, we get a big boost of color, and this year has been kind of dry.”
The inn, which has been hosting travelers since 1840, has a view of 3,155-foot Mount Cardigan, and, of course, the lake. This is a busy time of year.
“We have a wedding rehearsal today and a wedding tomorrow,” Kohn said. “September and October are wedding season for us.”
Fast said there are a number of variables that can affect the color of the leafs.
“The season can certainly look different year to year, based on a lot of different facts, the chemistry of the trees, the biology and physics and physiology of the trees,” he said.
“If we have a really bad storm in foliage season, that can knock down leafs, and can have a pretty big impact. Raining too much or too little can affect things.
“In theory, a dry year should push the season forward a little bit.”
Reduced hours of sunlight and cold weather trigger the turn.
The ingredients necessary for a tree's growth are manufactured in the leaf in cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leafs their green color. Chlorophyll absorbs energy from sunlight that is used in transforming carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch.
In the fall, chlorophyll breaks down and the green color goes away, allowing other pigments, or colors, to make their appearance. As the change of season continues, trees form a layer of cells at the leaf stem. The leaf separates from the branch and falls to the ground.
To the north of the Lakes Region, the White Mountains are a big draw for “leaf peeping.” People from around the world come to the region.
Jayne O'Connor, president of the White Mountains Attractions Association, said the colors are now starting to fade.
"The colors came early, then slowed, and lasted a long time," said O'Connor. "This allowed us to receive visitors for a week or two longer, who came hoping to catch every last bit of color."
"Since Columbus Weekend we've had close to 50 buses with nearly 2,000 people crossing our threshold. These tours originate from diverse locations including California, Texas, Ohio, Australia, and the United Kingdom."
The New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism predict an estimated 9.8 million visitors to the state of New Hampshire during the fall season, with many of those visiting the White Mountains to take in the foliage.
Soucook River, Loudon, NH off Route 106 (photo by Ginger Kozlowski)
- Written by Rick Green
- Category: Local News
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