Pockets of Perfection

September 23, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

After YouAfter YouThe aspens hold back, giving the vibrant mountain maples center stage during round one of the autumn "foliage show." (Palisades, Idaho)

I may not have been born in New Hampshire but there's a lot of Granite State blood running through my veins after having lived there for so many years. It's where I learned to delight in autumn. There aren't enough words to describe the various shades of red decorating the White Mountains during the foliage show. 

Yellow may be mellow - but for me it's all about those jaw-dropping reds.

In the intermountain western United States, the autumnal color scheme is obviously quite different than what you'll find in New England. It's pretty, but generally monochromatic with yellow dominating. Still, there are pockets of red and deep orange if you know where to find mountain maples!

There's one such area near where I live, beginning in Palisades, Idaho and running on into the Snake River Canyon. If the conditions are conducive (and this year the magic recipe seems to be just about perfect), the maples explode with intense color - and yellow isn't so much in their playbook.  This season, they've been at peak while most of the aspens remain green. "No, we insist - you go first."

So at the moment, there are some areas in Palisades that are spectacular in their red and red-orange glory, with only occasional splashes of yellow to be found.  The range of color in this species of maples is less varied than what their eastern cousins are capable of producing, but it's still beautiful and quite the treat in an area where these fiery hues are uncommon.

Speaking of Rocky Mountain maples (Acer glabrum Torr), they're generally quite short - less like trees and closer to leggy bushes - and tend to be found at higher elevations and on slopes. They cling to landscapes that, quite honestly, don't appear very hospitable. Yet there they are. And this autumn, these scrubby little plants are going for the gusto.

It's enough to make this displaced Granite Stater's heart skip a beat.

Cascading CrimsonCascading CrimsonMountain maples clinging to the steep hillside are ablaze with peak autumn color. (Palisades, Idaho)  


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