The Leaf Seeker: Jeff Folger
Case in point: As we drive along Route 66 southeast of Hartford, we pass an irresistible sign for “PumpkinTown USA,” an oversized farmstand with a small population of scarecrows in a mock frontier village. Pulling over, Folger wastes no time squatting in a grove of gourds and snapping off a few pictures of some exceptionally cute children picking out their Halloween pumpkins. As he shoots, he chats with the mother of one of the kids about his blog. Shy as a child, Folger has found that traveling with camera in hand gives him a ready excuse to talk with anyone.
In his travels he regularly checks in with a cast of New England characters–Karen at the Peacham Store in Vermont, the waitresses at the Chicken Coop Restaurant in Mexico, Maine–to keep track of color. Then there are the virtual leaf-peepers who follow him on the Yankee blog or his regular Twitter update. “Several people on the blog forum have said that they’re seeing New England through my eyes,” he notes. He’s gotten e-mails from as far away as Sweden and Alaska asking for advice on finding the best fall color.
Back in the truck, we start to see brighter color after we take a wrong turn and head south toward the coast. But much to my chagrin, Folger turns around, set on exploring the hills to the west. Like a food critic who has to taste every dish but rarely gets to finish a meal, he races along the highway in hopes of finding one last swath of good fall color in the state’s western corner. “Unfortunately, I’m doing something I tell others not to do,” he says sheepishly. “I drive all these miles so other people can know where to go.”
The light is fading as we finally, after six hours in the truck, drive up Route 44 through the Litchfield Hills, but it’s clear that the foliage has passed peak here as well. Folger sighs at the close of another foliage season. “There goes my popularity for another year,” he says.
Even so, he doesn’t give up. Passing a weatherbeaten sugar shack beside a pond, he makes a note into the digital recorder that it might make a good subject for next year. “If I happen someday to be out on the west side of Connecticut in the morning, in the fall, I’ll take a look again,” he says, already anticipating another possible memory.
Jeff’s Photo Tips