Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maine's autumn, Day 1 | Panorama: A broad introduction to my favorite season

Click here to view a full-size panorama. Taken from atop a dam where Stump Pond drains into a stream, eight photos were stitched together in Photoshop to produce this image.

Alas, vacation has arrived again, and this time, it's in my childhood hometown of Princeton, Maine. Conveniently, Allegiant Air offers cheap flights directly from Orlando, Fla., to Bangor, Maine, about two hours from Princeton. Paying $120 for a round-trip ticket during Maine's period of fall foliage was a no-brainer. The crisp air, the apples, the pumpkins, the painted hills and mountains, the pungency of the balsam firs and the fallen pine needles deep in the woods make Maine's autumn the best season I know. It even beats Florida's summer thunderstorms.

As my plane descended over Bangor on Monday, the scene gradually came into view: green grass, shimmering blue lakes and mountains on the horizon, all highlighted by splotches of red and yellow from maple and birch trees. Scheduling a trip for the main purpose of leaf-peeping is a precarious venture. But a history of dates for peak foliage in Maine, published on a state Web site, moved me to book a flight for the second week in October. And at the end of that flight Monday, the view that unfolded outside my airplane window appeared to confirm my hunch.

My parents picked me up at the airport, and the two-hour trip home turned into three hours, as I insisted on frequently stopping to photograph the scenery when I thought that shooting out the window at 65 mph wouldn't cut it. Halfway home, we stopped near a cousin's house in Lincoln, where a welcome sign says the city is the "home of 13 lakes." The photo above, however, features a pond - Stump Pond, to be exact. You see, Maine has a high standard for its lakes: While Floridians call a large puddle filled with runoff a "lake," the large body of water featured in the above image can't get such high respect.

Amid other exposures, I took eight JPEG images across the horizon of Stump Pond, which is lined with evergreens and deciduous trees, some of which were glowing brilliantly with the colors of autumn. The foliage in the Lincoln area on Monday was considered to be high in intensity. At home in Princeton, it's still at a low level. But that should change by the end of the week.

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