The early hard freezes we received in late September brought an early closure of the growing season here at Peeper Pond Farm. Aside from sowing our Winter Rye seeds (which we plan to do tomorrow), our garden has been put to bed for the season. We removed all the final corn stalks, tomato plants, pepper plants, and squash vines this past Thursday (October 1). I didn’t complete that work last year until late October. Although we had a lot of hot and humid weather in July and early August, our overall summer weather was truly pleasant and we managed to produce a good crop of vegetables to sell at the Farmers Market and to tide us over for the winter. I also noticed that the weather conditions this summer (including the early frosts we received) would be conducive to a very colorful fall foliage season—something we hadn’t experienced in at least five years.
Fortunately, my hopes for a truly spectacular fall were rewarded this year. We found the first hint that the colors would be strong this year in the early appearance of brilliant golden leaves on all the locust trees that abound in our valley. As I have noted in past posts, it is the color yellow that first proclaims the return of spring, with all the daffodils, dandelions, forsythias, and wild mustard that emerge in March and April and that first announces the approaching fall with the wingstem, goldenrod, and bright yellow leaves of the season. So it was this year. By the closing days of September, we began to see brilliant oranges and reds appear on the sugar maples and sumac bushes that line many of our local roads.
Encouraged by the brilliant colors, we made a trip to Blackwater Falls State Park on September 28 to survey the landscape above the Allegheny Front for more fall colors. Aside from all the traffic and crowds of tourists we encountered at the park, we were not disappointed. Color abounded throughout our drive across the Allegheny Plateau and at the various overlooks in the park. The coloring of the leaves was as gloriously brilliant and vivid in the sunlight as the most memorable fall foliage colors I can recall from my childhood in Northern New England, and the leaves have only begun to turn this year.
We made a second excursion to the high country yesterday (October 3) in Canaan Valley and the areas east of Elkins. Once again, we found abundant color, although many of the trees have yet to change. Only the highest elevations (above 3,500 feet or so) have reached or surpassed peak color. Unlike Northern New England where the trees reach their peak colors in unison, we have a more protracted fall foliage season, due to extreme elevational changes and varied microclimates. Nevertheless, we are experiencing a spectacularly vivid fall foliage season similar to those we witnessed in 2006, 2012, and 2014, when our hills and mountains were blazed with the glowing golds, radiant reds, deep crimsons and vibrant oranges that give the fall season such a warm and embracing feeling. Nature’s pallet truly is a wonder to experience at this time of the year.
We hope that you can take the opportunity to visit and appreciate our rural landscape this memorably splendid fall season, where the mountains and deer outnumber the people. As I’m always fond of saying, the real reason West Virginia is called “almost heaven” is because it can’t all be Pendleton County—or the Potomac Highlands, for that matter. Now if we can only have a white Christmas again this year.