Viewing the changing colors of leaves is a popular fall ritual, sometimes called “leaf peeping.” Fall color is an important tourist attraction in some areas. If you are planning a trip to view the colorful foliage, you might find an article on fall color in the Travel section of your newspaper with suggestions of the best spots to go. Local TV news broadcasts also report on the peak times and places for viewing the fall colors. If we’re lucky, we may even see some colorful displays in our own neighborhood.
When days become shorter and cooler in the fall, the green chlorophyll in leaves degrades, and other colors are revealed. The weather has a big influence on the amount and timing of fall color, so color displays vary from year to year. In some years, there is not much to see. In other years, the displays are spectacular.
Fall colors have long been a popular subject on chrome postcards. I am enough of a photography and postcard collecting snob to recognize images like these as clichés, but that hasn’t prevented me from collecting them.
The postcard below is a prime example of a photographic cliché, from the unreal saturation of the trees to the foreground figure in a bright red shirt. Even the caption printed on the back is a little over the top: “Autumn Days bring vivid red, green and gold to enchant the land before fading into Winter’s somber tones.” There is no indication of a location, and it is obviously a stock photo that could be sold in many locations.
The trees shown on fall color postcards usually are not identified, but the next postcard is titled Fields of Gold in the Mountains and identifies the trees as Golden Aspens. It has the following description on the back:
The colorful Golden Aspens present one of nature’s finest displays in autumn. Artists and photographers seek them for favorite subjects and visitors enjoy their gorgeous golden coloring in the fall season.
The next two postcards are more examples of stock photos. The one below is titled Creator’s Handiwork. Some other examples of titles on generic stock postcards that I have are Color Festival, Brilliant Autumn, Autumn’s Paint Brush, and Fall in the Country.
Roadsides and bodies of water (often with reflections on the water) are both popular locations for fall color photos. The next postcard could be a lake or river. Its caption is a slight variation of a line from a popular poem by Joyce Kilmer: “. . . bordered with Autumn leaves, it is a pleasant thing.” (Kilmer’s poem reads “Now, Main Street bordered with autumn leaves, it was a pleasant thing.”)