i slept in the guest bedroom last night, put some new sheets on the bed, sort of remarking my territory. since i've bought my place, that room has seen three different roommates living under this house, so i've never really felt that room was entirely mine. when it was empty, i used it as a laundry room and a storage room, and occasionally a napping room during stretches of time where i've worked from home. i've been thinking about putting an ikea loft bed here, to free up some more space, perhaps turn it into an official home office, or perhaps a reading room. i need to get a tv though; without one, the room seems empty some how, devoid of life.

i woke up at 7:30am to get myself ready and drive up to belmont by 8am, where i was meeting my parents. together we'd be going up north today, to vermont, to check out the foliage. coming with us was my godmother and her friend, here in town visiting from seattle, where they don't get fall colors like we do in new england. thus began a long 12 hour day with my father behind the wheel of the toyota camry, traversing massachusetts, new hampshire, and finally vermont. we saw the annual display of autumn colors, but the view was marred by two things: first, as soon as we got into vermont, the weather was overcasted and at times drizzling and cold (a windy 58 degrees). without the sun, the colors seemed muted. everyone else was saying how amazing the trees looked, but i knew it could be much better, and i held my tongue, cursing the clouds in the process. the second thing was it seemed like vermont was actually post-peak in terms of colors. there seemed to be more vibrancy back in massachusetts, while in the green mountain state, although still impressive, there was a lack of the color red (my theory is red maples are the first to change colors and all their leaves have already fallen).

colorful blurs

quechee gorge

river's edge

we visited a roadside flea market before coming to quechee gorge. it was crowded with people, but not as many as i thought it'd be. foliage watching is sort of a weird thing to do. although it's pretty, there's not much more you can get out of it, other than a greater appreciation of nature and perhaps some photos or a video. and living in massachusetts, it seems kind of silly to drive hours up north to see the colors when we get the exact same colors as well, just a few weeks later (although because of the mountains up north, the vista is more spectacular).

needles & cones

pine treetops

white pine

red pine

today i took a step in advancing my own personal knowledge of pine trees. i traced the pine needles and the pinecones to their respective trees, and now i can distinguish the difference between red pine and white pine. this might seem like pretty basic knowledge for any arborist, but i've never been much of a tree person, so it feels good to finally figure out on my own what the difference is. white pines have long pinecones and 5 needles per bundle (comparison photo, left), while red pines have egg-shaped pinecones and 2 needles per bundle (comparison photo, left). the bark is also different, with red pines having a very distinctive texture that resemble smooth reddish flakes. in the treeto photo, the one on the left is a white pine while the one on the right is a red pine. another common evergreen of new england forests is the hemlock (comparison photo, center), included as a bonus tree.

milkweed seeds

picnic food

covered bridge

we had lunch at quechee gorge, setting up a picnic on one of the many tables along the edge of the gorge path. later, we visited the nearby simon pearce glass blowing mill. i didn't want to go, i would've been happier just continuing our northern advance to see more foliage, but the live demonstration of glass blowing was interesting. the store and restaurant were upstairs while the factory and the view of the hydroelectric waterfall/dam were in the basement level. i felt very out of place there, apart from keeping a safe distance from the counters so my jacket wouldn't accidently knock over a $100+ handmade glass vase, the place was also crowded with the whitest and richest people i've ever seen, the kind of high society folks that can afford and appreciate this kind of glassware. give me plastic anyday!


off peak mountain

empty birches

we got as far as the calvin coolidge historical museum in vermont before we started our way back. having seen my share of fall colors, i fell asleep in the front seat cradling my camera (who knows when the next roadside photo opportunity might occur), my father driving, the ladies in the back chatting away nonstop. after we dropped off my godmother and her friend, i had dinner at my parents' place before returning to cambridge via motorcycle. it was cold, i had on four layers. i looked like ralphie's little brother but at least i was warm (from the waist up anyway). my father had some problems with the photos he took today, the computer didn't seem to recognize all but one of the files, but i managed to recover almost all of it using photorescue. i finished off the evening watching desperate housewives (i've found a new show to watch!) and following the red sox news stories from one broadcast to the next.