Don’t fear the peeper(s)
An essay by Snark and Circumstance’s Georgia Barrett
Autumn is a big deal in New England. In fact, around here, people practically think they invented autumn, or, at least, autumn’s big holiday, Thanksgiving. I’m not a big fan of Thanksgiving. I know that it is good to be thankful for the things you have, and I am, usually. I am thankful, for instance, that my mom is finally off my back about making friends at my new school (and has been downright giddy since the perfectly preppie Michael Endicott has been coming over to our house.) I am grateful to have met some cool people at school, finally, who prefer punk to pep rallies, and that I get to write stuff like this for the school’s alternative paper. But I think there is something inherently creepy about a holiday that (1) celebrates the white Puritans’ having their butts saved by the native people that they would soon drive off their own land and (2) features the carcass of a dead animal as not just the centerpiece of the dinner table but makes that dinner the whole point of the day. (Well, that and football).
It’s hard to stick up for turkeys – they can be pretty unpleasant – but somebody has to.
(This is it, folks: Plymouth Rock. I don’t live near it, but my mom dragged us to see it one day. I expected something a little more impressive, didn’t you?)
But when my family first moved here, I discovered a phenomenon even more disturbing:
They come by bus, usually in pairs, arriving in the morning so they can hit as many early bird specials as possible before returning to their southern points of origin. White haired and wind-breakered, they wear sensible shoes to provide optimal stalking comfort. Armed with cameras, they descend on quiet New England towns with a lust born by the botanical/chemical miracle that occurs when the decomposition of chlorophyll meets a surge in plant sugars. It’s the
Invasion of the Leaf Peepers!
I had never heard of these people who go on “Fall Foliage” tours and descend on towns like Longbourne with a rabid desire to see some leaves that have changed color. I wasn’t prepared for the throngs of senior citizens invading the town green like Vikings descending on a fishing village. I wondered what sort of people were willing to spend a whole day on an exhaust-spewing bus, touring from town to town, just to see some brightly colored foliage.
The first peepers I encountered all but knocked me down on my way to school. Later, another set of peepers clogged the entrance to Starbucks and I couldn’t get my iced soy chai in time to run to my English class without being late. (Apparently leaf spotting requires constant injections of high-grade caffeine to keep the eyes sharp.)
It’s just leaves, people, I wanted to yell at them, but that seemed kind of snotty, so I just wondered where they lived that didn’t have non-deciduous trees, and I felt sort of sorry for them.
Because once I started to look around, I realized that by mid-September, Nature puts on a pretty impressive display of colors around here.
I started paying more attention as I walked back home that day. The air was crisp, like biting into one of those really sweet, really juicy apples you can pick this time of year. I reveled in the crunch of the leavesunder my feet without thinking, as I usually do, that the leaves crunch because they are dead and that means winter is coming. (And I hate winter.) I looked up at the canopy of ochre and russet and scarlet overhead and it reminded me of the stained glass windows in the church my sister Leigh used to go to, only it was more beautiful because it was natural and because it would not last. There was something unbearably lovely in the idea that the display would vanish in just a few days.
So now I get out of the way of the peepers. It’s kind of cool, actually, that the peepers take a day out and get on a bus just to admire something natural and beautiful. Most of us are too busy just plowing ahead with our days to notice what’s around us. So on the one hand, I hope that when I am old and retired I have better things to do than drive around looking at leaves; on the other hand, I’m starting to think that maybe there is nothing better to dothan that, really. And if I do become a peeper, I swear I will never knock anyone down. It’s a limited engagement, sure, but for a few weeks, the leaves are there for everybody. Like so many things in life, you should take care to enjoy it while you can.
Georgia Barrett is the narrator of the Snark and Circumstance e-novella series, a contemporary YA take on Pride and Prejudice, available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
Find Stephanie’s books on Amazon:
Snark and Circumstance(novella 1) on Amazon
Charm and Consequence (novella 2) on Amazon
Pride and Prep School (novella 3) on Amazon
Prom and Prejudice, releases in January
Find Stephanie and her characters online at:
The photo above is by @fitzmulligan and from The MA Insta Foliage site, http://www.massvacation.com/fall/?gclid=CKeyy5zLqroCFRGi4AodOTgAJw