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A Leaf Falls In The Forest. Here's What It Sounds Like

LIANE HANSEN, host:

It's autumn and in much of the U.S. that means forests have begun to change in magnificent ways. Maples and birches and tamaracks are lighting up with color. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann went for a leaf-peeping hike this week in upstate New York. He sent this audio postcard.

BRIAN MANN: It's mid-morning and I'm heading off on a trail to Split Rock Mountain. I've chosen this particular path today because it's peak fall color here in New York's Champlain Valley. These are the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. And as I walk, I am surrounded by the most plummy, rich fall color -ripe reds and pear yellows and peach oranges.

(Soundbite of footsteps)

MANN: That right crispy sound is a carpet of maple leaves. A breeze comes up, sparking a squall of tumbling color.

(Soundbite of leaves falling)

MANN: It's like someone threw a pack of bright playing cards into the air.

(Soundbite of leaves falling)

MANN: I stopped to catch my breath in a meadow high up on the mountain here in this open space not sheltered by trees. You can see that a good, hard frost has already hit. All the undergrowth is scorched brown and black by the cold. But what remains are just these incredible little sculptures of leaves and seeds.

(Soundbite of bird chirping)

MANN: As I sit, a blue-headed vireo begins to sing.

(Soundbite of bird chirping)

MANN: He'll be gone soon, headed south to Florida or maybe as far as Central America.

(Soundbite of footsteps)

MANN: I set off again on my own path, picking my way through grottos of rock that look like they're decorated with stain glass windows. I cross dozens of tiny streams.

(Soundbite of footsteps)

MANN: From a ridge above Lake Champlain, I see Canada geese streaming past in the distance, also headed south.

(Soundbite of geese squawking)

MANN: As I hike out through this really Technicolor landscape, I keep reminding myself, trying to convince myself really, that in just a few short weeks, the pallet here will fade to grey and silver, snow and ice will take over for the long winter. It seems unreal on this day when there's color everywhere.

For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann in New York's Adirondack Mountains. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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