Leaf-peepers need a hobby. A real one.

When I first heard about the idea of “leaf peeping,” I thought it was a joke. It was in an episode of Family Guy, as I recall, and as I had never spent an autumn in New England, I could only assume that the “hoards” of tourists who descend like Hellfire on the Northeast “to watch the leaves change color” was some kind of hyperbolic mockery of people with a severely bastardized concept of both nature and vacations…

So it is with incredulity that I look at the Boston Globe and see that Columbus Day was Maine’s 2nd biggest tourism weekend because of the some 700,000 carloads of people, apparently eager to take their three-day weekend and go peep some leaves.  Similarly, Eileen Ognitz at CNN International offers some ideas on how to keep the kids entertained on your leaf-peeping trip, and the Aspen Times sadly reports to it’s citizenry that the 2007 Leaf Peeping season is past it’s peak.

Where’s the jocular ridicule? Gentle scorn? A stray facetious compliment or an underhanded jab? Far be it from me to condemn someone’s fetish, dendrophelic or otherwise, but has leaf-peeping moved so far into the mainstream that journalists can’t mock it publicly? Seriously: leaf-peeping? Yes, it's pretty, but that's a perk, not a reason. That's like paying $2200 to stay at the Ritz Carlton because they put mints on your pillow.

Holy Shit.

I get nature. It’s splendid, and I readily concede that a picture of the Grand Canyon cannot begin to substitute for being there, toeing the precipice, wind in face, sun on back, etc. But there is a sense of grandeur involved in such things, and I have a hard time imagining that a red leaf is that much better than a picture of a red leaf, so much so that it would be worth a 3-day weekend that could be spent watching baseball or… you know… doing nearly anything else.

-- Jason O’Bryan

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