An Endless Summer to Remember.
It snowed last night: a three inch thick coffin lid to our seemingly endless summer. The first snowfall arrives like a shot across the bow. We’d expected it but some still grumble. The foliage-on half of autumn now yields to “stick season” and “eating season” when some people tend to cocoon indoors, triggered by shorter, chilly days and longer, cold nights.
Nobody should complain about a lack of outdoor opportunities this autumn. The weather department delivered big time, particularly clutch on warm, sunny weekends. The brilliance and duration of fall foliage outperformed expectations and some dire predictions of negative effects from a summer drought and insects damage including the early summer spongy moth caterpillar defoliation of 52,000 acres of oak forests in North Conway region, Canterbury, Concord, Hopkinton, Henniker and Hillsboro.
Each successive weekend delivered warm, sunny weather for two months– up until last week. What more could we expect?
Looking back, the gorgeous extend-o autumn accommodated extra weeks of fall foliage themed tourism and special events – food festivals, pumpkin regattas, road races. The extended hiking season featured shorts and T-shirt weather throughout balmy October. Leaves hung on and so did outdoor enthusiasts accustomed to hanging up boots, paddles or golf clubs when leaf rakes and ice scrapers come out. This year, we were able to top-off our tanks with sunshine-produced Vitamin D and feel-good brain chemicals - endorphins and serotonins – stimulated by exercise and fresh air.
The Forest Society offered a series of “pop-up hikes,” a mid-week series of guided hikes on easier trails at less crowded local destinations: Monson Village in Milford and Hollis, Sunset Hill at the Hay Forest Reservation overlooking Lake Sunapee in Newbury, The McCabe Forest in Antrim on the banks of the Contoocook River and at the Merrimack River Floodplain trails at our Concord Conservation Center. Popular hiking trails at Forest Society properties located on Mount Major in Alton and Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey and Dublin were busy for weeks. I noted sunrise photos posted on social media long after peak foliage passed in the White Mountain region. Endless autumn. Or so it seemed.
The Annual Tree Farm Field Day in October at “Forest Without Gile” in Springfield and Wilmot owned by Ann and Marc Davis drew-in the forestry faithful from across the state. In November we hosted a timber harvest tour at the Forest Society’s Wilkins-Campbell Forest in Deering during 65-degree temperatures.
In short, we’ve just been blessed with the most incredible stretch of warm, sunny weeks of autumn in recent memory. Outdoors people responded in kind with smiles and miles on scenic roads and trails for which New Hampshire is renowned. The only remaining question is: did we already pre-pay or will the bill be forthcoming later this winter?