Metro, Newton

Zhang: Want to Watch the Leaves Change Colors? You Might Not Have to Leave Newton

As I was wandering on Commonwealth Ave. a few days ago, I spotted a patch of yellow in a linden tree’s shaggy crown. Instead of coming up with something poetic, my mind decided to recall a Family Guy episode in which the Griffins were enjoying themselves at a local lake. Suddenly, Brian—the family dog—sees a single leaf turn red and screamed “leafers!” Before the family could escape, a host of New Yorkers—hungry tourists fighting to catch a glimpse of fall foliage—came in and blocked their escape.

I jest, but leafers are real. The famed Blue Ridge Parkway reliably gets crowded every October. According to a parkway spokesperson, the third week in October is the busiest on the parkway. It may or may not be the best time for leaf color, but the leafers don’t seem to mind.

Personally, I always suffer from a lack of motivation when it comes to leaf-peeping. The time frame to do so is not generous, and some random obligation—usually a result of my terminal procrastination—always gets in the way. It could also be that the weather’s rainy and cold, or—God forbid—what if my motorcycle ran into a patch of wet leaves and slid out? Not how I imagined I would dance in the fallen leaves, dare I say.

But there is also an alternative explanation in my favor: Perhaps it is because of my unwavering affection for urban trees. Urban trees beautify our community and filter the junk coming out of our exhausts, and when it comes to their most beautiful time of the year, going out for more vibrant leaves—those free of rustiness on their edges as a result of urban life—feels like an affair.

My roommate once told me that Walden Pond did not live up to his expectations. When he visited, he said, the place was crowded with rowdy children and adults tanning themselves like butcher’s meat on slabs—per Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun. Not the way Thoreau would have liked it, he said.

I accused my roommate of being selfish—jokingly of course—but it is true that the top leaf-peeping destinations will be crowded. Fall colors have yet to reach Massachusetts in their fullest force, but that time is rapidly approaching.

On the other hand, Newton has ample parks and conservation areas from Levingston Cove to Webster Woods—and does it matter if they’re crowded too? I’d be sharing my time with my neighbors: It’ll be a Newton moment.

And what about the more than 20,000 street trees? I’d say pay more attention to them as they adorn their crowns with yellow and red. An illicit affair with the vibrant leaves on the Mohawk Trail is exciting, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But we witness the leaves around us changing from being tiny green buds to once again a part of the soil. Trees do not feel—and let’s hope they stay that way—and as such, it is up to us to appreciate their inherent beauty.

October 3, 2022