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A Season in North Woodstock
The ancient maple at the Batchelder Farm has passed her peak, sadly, for there was no perfect day this week in which she could shimmer her colors under a September blue sky.

Today was, however, a glorious fall day. It was cool enough to have to nudge on the heat and dig out a long sleeve shirt. There were moments when the sky was sunny and blue, puffed up with fluffy clouds, making it seem to stretch on forever.

My friend, Jayne, and I went up the road a few miles to Kinsman Notch to check on the colors at the old Beaver Pond, pleased to find that they are just now getting established. Just after sunrise and just before sunset, the pond is still and quiet and when the foliage is approaching peak, these are the times when it looks like a giant has spilled his candy. At the right moment, the reflection and play of light can take your breath away.

Back home, Buttons and Shadow, the resident pony and horse, returned to the front pasture after spending the latter half of the summer in the fields behind the barn. The leaves from the maple are puddling at her base.

Tonight, a mostly full moon rose over South Mountain in a chilly night sky. The bare arms of the old tree are cradling a handful of stars and the air is still. Every now and then, a leaf flutters to the ground ...

The weatherman says the temperatures will dip down into the 20s tonight. I expect my neighbor, Andy, to be out soon covering his modest garden.

The colors here in North Woodstock will be on a roll this week and we can expect them to pop gloriously in an explosion of red, orange and yellow.

I canít wait.

An Autumn Journal
by Lorna Colquhoun

There is a harmony in autumn,
and a luster in its sky,
which through the summer
is not heard or seen,
as if it could not be,
as if it had not been!

Percy Bysshe Shelley

We are back from an assignment that took us (that would be the dog and me) across the Canadian border in several places, to Pittsburg, at the tippy-top of New Hampshire. We are happy to report that there were no international incidences.

A word about my faithful traveling companion, Bo. He's approaching elderly and lives to ride in the car. Before I can shift all the gears, he's fast asleep in the front seat. This morning, crossing into Chartierville, the Canadian customs agent asked me, ``Your dog, is he dead or alive?`` I gave Bo a little poke and he perked for a second.

``Yup,`` I said. ``He's still with us.``

Anyway, the foliage was absolutely gorgeous. Look what we in North Woodstock have to look forward to!!

Cold and the call of coyotes came through the open windows early today for a morning wake-up alarm. Two things surprised me - that it looked like the middle of the night at 5 a.m. and that the coyotes seemed to be not far away.

The lack of light is to be expected this time of year, as the days grow shorter and the nights interminable. The coyotes I canít explain, except that I rarely ever hear them.

They yipped and yowled for several minutes, while I contemplated a very early day. At this hour, I can trot to the newspaper tube in my bathrobe and not be caught. Or, I can catch another hour or so of sleep.

So I slept.

Like coyotes, other wildlife is on the move. Several flocks of geese have passed over the house heading south. The resident hedgehog at the Batchelder Farm prowls and grazes at length early in the day. The flashing sign in the northbound lane of the Franconia Notch Parkway warns of moose. Neighbor Aaronís black cat, Bo, is fat and happy keeping the field mouse population down - the ones who escape have taken up lodging in my house, to my distress.

The weatherman is predicting wind-driven rain tomorrow and I am on assignment in Canada for a couple of days. I fear the brilliant leaves of the ancient maple will withstand neither the rain or my absence. But notice that the younger maples next to the old one have yet to begin their change.

The colors around my house have burst forth into stellar yellows and oranges, but itís my own corner of splendor. The hills are still mostly green with spots of color, but that changes with each passing moment.

Iíd hoped the ancient maple would take its time to peak, to see it glow under a September blue sky. But Mother Nature, alas, has her own time table.

How nice to hear from old friends and new. Please share this special season with others, sign my guestbook and return later this week for another update.

Long before the autumnal equinox, the ancient maple at the Batchelder Farm put summer on notice and began changing its leaves late in August. By the first day of fall, its leaves are near peak, while the younger trees have yet to begin their annual transformation.

There is a day in August when the verdancy of the mountainsides lose their lushness and dull, almost imperceptibly. On a knoll here and there, a splash of color slashes through the green leaves, and it brings you up short, the message that summer is on the wane.

It was a hot, dry summer here in the western White Mountains. Left to its own devices, the lawn ceased to grow, to my delight, sometime in July. The weather was enough to fool Ralph Bradleyís lilacs down in Lower Woodstock - they bloomed last spring and again over Labor Day.

No matter what the summer weather, just how it will affect fall foliage always is a topic of conversation by mid-August. There is more color than usual for this time of year, but there is plenty of green left, just waiting for nature to give it the go ahead to change. Peak foliage in this corner of the world always happens between the end of September and the beginning of October. Mark your calendar ... and my words!

This year, the fall colors are intertwined by the bold red, white and blue we have all needed to put out in the past two weeks. Distance and the mountains have not insulated us from horror, but - perhaps - will sooth and comfort all those who seek its embrace. The cycle of seasons, like life, moves on, as we will, too.

Welcome back to North Woodstock, NH, for the second year of `A Season in North Woodstock.` This is the view from my backyard - the pasture of the Batchelder farm and the ancient maple that cloaks the lovely farmhouse. Beyond the ridge is the Franconia Range and its namesake notch. The peak that dominates the view is, appropriately, Mount Liberty.

Come back every few days and watch fall unfold. I'm pleased if you pass this link on to friends and family. Drop an email and I'll let you know when the page is updated.



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