Fall color

On the drive down from Cambridge to New Bedford this afternoon, the traffic was heavy and slow until the Route 24 exit. I had plenty of time to look at the progress of fall color.

Leaf color is at or just past peak south of Boston. The cold snap of the past two nights means that the leaves on most trees have finally reached full color. Exceptions to peak color include the oaks, with many oaks of all species still fully green — and the swamps, where most trees have already dropped their leaves.

Overall, leaf color is not spectacular this year, with fewer brilliant reds than usual, and not much in the way of true orange. The red maples tend to have mixed red and yellow leaves this year, and yellows and muted reds predominate on the sugar maples. Nevertheless, there are some real bright spots, and on a cloudy day like today, even the more colors stand out. It’s not a breathtaking year for fall color, but still quite beautiful.

The colors become even more muted farther south. From Taunton southwards, I saw mostly yellow and even brown leaves, with many trees retaining a great deal of green. Yet there are still some remarkable spots of color — for example, the northeast corner of the intersection of I-195 and Rte. 140 has a beautiful stand of maples with yellow, bright orange and crimson red. And the most spectacular tree I saw on the drive today was in Taunton along Rte. 140, a brilliant red oak with cranberry-red leaves, so red they were almost black in places.

Buttonwood Park here in New Bedford is still pretty green. I’d guess that we’ll see peak color here in New Bedford early in this coming week.