Alas, peak is fleeting. In its wake comes past peak: “Brightness and depth of color have begun to fade. Leaf drop has begun and will accelerate from this point.” Past peak is indicated by a that’s-all-she-wrote, see-you-in-the-spring burgundy that slowly creeps down from Canada and spreads out across the country. This shouldn’t come as a shock, I suppose. What does is how this depiction creates a sense of pressure one doesn’t normally encounter when thinking about leisure time spent outdoors. Looking at the landscape, our eyes are drawn to the trees that make peak such an appealing moment. Looking at these maps, we also see that peak is here, but we simultaneously notice that past peak is following close behind. There is, of course, a melancholy to the sight of changing foliage. We know the transformation reveals the trees’ hunkering down for a long winter. We face those same cold, dark months. The fall foliage map charts this somber process, but it has a melancholy all its own. Looking at foliage, you’re watching summer disappear. Looking at the maps, you’re watching the same thing happen to fall.
more from Jesse Smith at The Smart Set here.