Living in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the fall leaf prediction is heralded with shouts of joy or cries of dismay. Kathy Matthews, an associate professor of biology at Western Carolina University has the dubious honor of predicting fall color for our region each year. She says 2011 should be spectacular due to a dry summer and a mid-August cool spell. This is good news for the tourism industry, counting on lots of leaf peepers staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and buying up regional crafts in September, October and November.
Matthews’ predecessor was known in tourism circles for his less than optimistic predictions. Apparently the worst Kathy has predicted is a “muted” fall. I find this admirable.
Here’s the upshot. No one knows how pretty the fall leaf color will be. Just like the weather, there are indicators–dry summers, cool autumns, sunny skies, frosts–but ultimately, it’s a guess. And why not err on the side of a good show?
I’m an optimist. What’s the worst that can happen? The leaves aren’t quite as vibrantly red or gloriously orange as we’d hoped? There’s still that nip in the air, the smell of dried leaves and an incredibly blue sky that makes everything look good. I like Kathy. I hope she predicts a good show even after a soggy summer followed by a warm fall. God’s creation is lovely–no matter how vibrant the Maples are this year.