The deep lushness of Sourland Mountain vegetation seeps into my nose, evicting light ocean air and cedarwood that had taken residence all Summer. Sounds of October fill the night, with cicadas sleepily buzzing among the steady evening crowd of crickets and katydids. I am happy to be invited to their party, fighting the end of the season together in song, watching the remaining fireflies dot the tree line.
Autumn rolls in with momentum, weaving waves of color across the lush greenery that has been growing since March. Over the next few weeks, the tide of summer flora pulls back, uncovering fine lines in the landscape. Details emerge under the brush along the stream on the farm, revealing rocks and roots tightly packing the foundation of the shoreline. I appreciate the increasing bareness of the trees opening the view through their branches, allowing me to enjoy a full scene of the fields and forest from this end of the water.
Living up to its name, fall is in action and the most visually fluid few weeks in the Northeast have begun. Every other season tends to be a gradual transition, with plants and leaves crawling back into place until we’re surrounded by summer’s end, too slow to notice until it has already happened. The pace of autumn is present as a scintillating marathon, one species of tree flaring up and then passing the baton across the ecosystem.
Emboldened by the air-conditioned outdoors, this is a time for day trips. Though my weeks are filled with harvest fairs and picturesque pumpkin patches, melancholy lurks in the lengthening shadow of the night. I hike ever more frequently as the October rallies forward with its icy successors in tow, drawn out into the surrounding mountains that hum with change in the cooling air.
Photographers rejoice at this multi-month sunset, in which the chromatic luminosity provides many of the same benefits as the golden hour. Sunshine through a canopy of leaves diffuses perfectly into a honeyed aura, with streams of amber and scarlet. Walking through the wildflower preserve on Buck’s County on Bowman’s Hill is like a showroom of cinematic settings.
I am inspired and decided to see Vermont before it becomes covered with snow. Crossing over the Green Mountains shows the season a month ahead over the northern summit. Like the shining interior of a dull gemstone, color cascades down the valley in sharp contrast to the robust green blanket on its southern side. I cannot pass up the opportunity to drive along Lake Harvey, and I set up the tripod for a panoramic shot. The lakefront homes blend perfectly into changing vegetation, flecking the shoreline in pastel paints of varying shades.
I venture eastward to the New Hampshire border, encountering the Cornish–Windsor Covered Bridge. This functional museum is a relic of the 19th century, and while I’ve seen many covered bridges traveling across New England, this is the longest wooden covered bridge in the country. Its sturdy structure sits upon stone foundations above the Connecticut River as a 450-foot portal through time. Driving through the intricate timbers that lattice across the entire span of its interior, it feels like I could emerge from the tunnel among dirt roads and horses.
No matter how we run and churn, the earth maintains its eternal elliptical cruise. Arriving back in Hopewell, the fields are noticeably yellowed, and the ground crunches beneath my feet as I stroll. The ability to find beauty and acceptance among the overwhelming force of change is a developed skill, and not always consistent. Inspiration and renewed wonder are autumn’s final gifts before giving way to winter.
Thanks for reading,