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Every autumn is different, and every day – every hour – of every autumn is different. This year in Shenandoah National Park, some of autumn’s colors are taking the stage, very boldly and by storm.
To be sure, most trees are still green. It’s still early in the season, so that behavior is not unusual. Many trees are just beginning to take on a presaging gold-green. And some hickories and birches are alight, golden yellow, as are milkweeds’ leaves. Virginia creeper, a prolific vine in the park, is transforming, too, into various shades of scarlet – wine, cherry, and candy apple. Dogwoods in the north district are dappled with bronze. Gums – also early changers – are dressed in vermillion, many of them since late summer. Sumacs are neon. Asters the color of moonlight and goldenrods the shade of sunshine are displaying their usual mood-lifting hues. In Big Meadows, blueberry bushes have blushed that shade of red you have to see to believe.
But the maples! Apparently, the maples – especially the sugar maples – have selected a few leaders to go ahead of the rest of tree tribe and glow. Dotting the hillsides along Skyline Drive very occasionally you may be startled by branch tips, whole branches, and even whole trees the color of fire. Surprise!
But note: This report is based on what was happening yesterday, Thursday, September 25. Autumn is mercurial, in Shenandoah National Park and everywhere else. Temperatures at night and in the daytime, wind, rain, and all the other weather features typical of a fickle season affect autumn’s mood. In other words, what you see when you arrive in the park may be very different from what you read in this report and the other five fall color reports forthcoming this season.
Consider yourself notified.
The best plan you can make is to just come to Shenandoah National Park and see for yourself how wonderful and beautiful this magical lady is – whatever colors she chooses to dress herself in.
The fall color report will be updated every Friday through the end of October, so look for the next one on October 3, 2014.
*Shenandoah staff will post a weekly fall color update each Friday through October. Reports are based on the writer's observations during the preceding week. Please keep in mind that the park is over 100 miles long and spans a wide elevation range. Fall color conditions can vary dramatically from area to area. Weather affects the color from day to day and even hour to hour. It is impossible to predict a peak. We will do our best to give accurate reports, but please remember that many variables contribute to conditions.
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