Well, this explains it. There is a scientific reason why I love fall (and more specifically why I love fall in Waterville Valley). A while back, freelance writer and friend, Alyssa Walker, told me that she was researching temporal landmarks, the ‘fresh start effect’ and how specific times of the year can motivate us. I had no idea what she was talking about; but, when she asked me what I love about fall in Waterville Valley, I had no problem sharing my thoughts.
Check out Alyssa’s article, below. I hope it motivates you to enjoy fall-time here in Waterville Valley.
There’s a Scientific Reason That You’ll “Fall” In Love With Waterville Valley
By Alyssa Walker
It’s not just the colors. It’s not just the views. It’s more.
It’s the experience of the time and place and the people here in the town at the end of the road that make those colors in the mountains shimmer and pop that much brighter.
Jan and Harry Stearns moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and never left.
Jan said, “Our previous visits to Waterville Valley were in winter to ski on Mt. Tecumseh’s famed slopes. We moved to the Valley full-time in June of 1981. After spending that first fall in the Valley, my husband and I agreed, autumn is our new favorite season. It’s not just the gorgeous colors that make Waterville Valley’s 4000-footers look like a watercolor painting. It’s the crisp mountain air, the relaxed, slower pace, and fewer people on the trails. Most importantly for those of us who also love winter, the short but intense fall season creates a sense of anticipation for snow and winter sports.”
What is it about that experience that makes it so spectacular?
Fall is a temporal landmark. It’s a time that we associate with different things, like major holidays, for example.
Scientific research on the concept of temporal landmarks–specific times of the year–play a role in our sense of motivation. For fall, it’s back-to-school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, those ubiquitous pumpkin-spice lattes, and of course–colors.
It’s a time of fresh starts and new beginnings for many, as the warm, lazy days of summer end, replaced by a faster-paced schedule. For many the time of year itself is a motivator. Evidence of the “fresh start effect” suggests that fall is a natural time for many to reflect on the past year and work towards “aspirational” goals. The cooler temperatures help, too. That’s right: humans make better decisions and have sharper cognitive abilities in cooler temperatures.
It’s no wonder that we find that crunch of leaves underfoot so satisfying, those reds and yellows and oranges so scintillating.
For Leah Elliot, Executive Director of the The Rey Cultural Center at the Curious George Cottage, it’s not just the Valley’s natural beauty that she associates with the time of year. It’s the “zip-zop of corduroy pants,” the “happiness of going through the closet for cozy clothes,” and especially “the change in the way the lower sun warms but doesn’t bake and the air skitters the leaves on the roads and trails.”
It’s those sights, says Elliot, layered on top of the sounds of fall that make it for her. “There’s nothing quite like fall in New Hampshire,” she says. “The Valley is just that much more spectacular because of its geography and seeming remoteness, even though it’s only 15 minutes from the highway.”
Elliot adds, “Fall up here is so amazing. Think late-morning runs after the chill has left, red & yellow leaves blowing in front of your feet, and an invigorating wind. And the colors change so fast, it’s worth looking at in the morning and afternoon every day before it’s ‘stick-season.’ I really love roller skiing up here, too, because even at the most beautiful time of the year, the roads are quiet and the temperature is perfect. It’s actually about perfect for anything-short sleeves, long sleeves, running, riding, hiking, drinking coffee with your feet up.”
It’s not just the sights. It’s the time and the sounds and the smells and the idea of sheer possibility.
Alyssa Walker writes, lives, works, and plays in Waterville Valley with her husband and two adorable children. Check out her website.