Finding Fall Foliage on the Emerald Necklace

Filed in Lifestyle, Local Events, Things To Do by on November 6, 2009 0 Comments

Autumn is, unfortunately, the most fickle season. For a few fleeting weeks, the air is crisp and the leaves burn gold and crimson. Suddenly though, the nights grow cold and the trees turn barren, their lanky limbs gradually exposed.

While it’s been a beautiful autumn, the increasingly bleak branches indicate that this season is all but over, no matter what the calendar says. The vibrant foliage has offered plenty to gawk at, even in some of the more urban pockets of the city. Yet the leaves are dropping faster now and, aided by recent gusting winds, there are few left intact to drift off capriciously of their own accord.

Still, there is much left to see at the tail end of this leaf season.  On a recent afternoon, I set off to bike the length of the Emerald Necklace—the string of loosely connected greenways and parks that ring the city—and see what sort of multifarious hues were left to see.

First stop was the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Drooping yellow clusters hung low over the monuments that punctuate this walkway.

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From there, it was on to Boston Common and the Public Garden. Both parks offered the illusion of seclusion from the city despite being close to the heart of Boston—or they would have if not for the throngs of tourists who, cameras in hand, clogged the walkways to take staged shots in front of every last blade of grass. Surprisingly, the leaves here were rather unremarkable, with a few exceptions; trees had either shed their leaves in one abrupt purge, or remained totally unchanged. And those exceptions? Trees on fire–metaphorically speaking, of course.

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I rushed on from there to The Back Bay Fens. Though much of the park is open space and ball courts, colorful leaves poked out here and there. In particular, deep mahogany and brown brush lined Muddy River, which flows through the center of the park.

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After The Fens, a short trip down the Riverway dumped me at the entrance to Olmsted Park where I found the most impressive seasonal canopies of my journey. The still water of Leverett Pond served as a perfect mirror for the bright boughs. The leaves here actually shone in the golden light as if infused with electric currents.

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Two more stops remained: Jamaica Pond, and the Arnold Arboretum.

I paused briefly by the pond, thinking that the arboretum would be the more fruitful location; which would have the better leaves? A body of water, or a park devoted exclusively to the display of trees?

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With the light fading, I reached the top of Peter’s Hill, the highest point in the park. The elevated vantage point provided a panoramic view of  reds, yellows and oranges, all prominently juxtaposed with the pervasive green of their yet-to-turn neighbors as the skyline protruded in the distance.

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If you can this weekend, get outside and take a hike. This may be the last chance to catch any color on the trees before it all subsides into the monotonous, cold brown of bare branches in winter.

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