When I lived in Boston I held among my acquaintances a heavily
starched woman who, in the best New England fashion, lived for
eighty-six years without ever once moving her upper lip or her
eyebrows. She didn't need to. Surprise and enthusiasm had been
carefully bred out of her in childhood, so the entire universe
elicited nothing more than an occasional sigh to indicate that had
not yet quite died of boredom.
She was of the party when a clutch of us fled the city for a
weekend in the semi-wilderness of Maine. The autumn colors were
reaching a particularly loud climax that year, and one of our
fellow travelers–newly arrived from a land impossibly far away
(Ohio)–punctuated every bend in the road with a scream of
approval. Confronted by a view that encompassed orange leaves,
blue mountains, gray sky, and red barn, she nearly blew the roof
off the car.
"I'm speechless!" she cried, inaccurately. "I don't even
have a word for it. It's all just so...so...What is the
"Obvious," said a sleepy, starchy voice in the back seat.
She had a point. Autumn is a perfectly nice season, I grant you.
I am second to none when it comes to an appreciation for wood
smoke, apple cider, and the Great Pumpkin. But the colors? Hello,
September. Hello again, rust. Hello again, gold. And red. And
brown. And red-gold, and rusty yellow-brown, and golden
Perhaps it's having spent all those years in New England
listening to the foliage junkies weep pensively into their lobster
dinners that makes me wish the season's palette were a little more
expansive. Leaves this, leaves that. Enough already with the
leaves. Leaves get all the attention; and let's be honest–unless
you live on a farm in New England, are they even the most striking
new colors in your landscape as the days grown short?
They certainly aren't in Chicago, where we do have trees (more
than you might imagine) but the leaves are usually blown to
smithereens by a gale before they can put on much of a show. It's
certainly not leaves that tell me fall is here; so why should I
feel compelled to pay homage to them when I pick out the yarns for
this year's new sweater?
Therefore, I am going out on a limb (you should pardon the
expression) to nominate the following shades as worthy additions
to a thoroughly modern line-up of fall colors.