It wasn’t until college that I learned about “leaf peepers.” Having grown up in Maine but never having thought very much about the changing colors of autumn — except that I loved the season — I didn’t realize that people travel hundreds of miles — often by bus tour — to view the brilliant foliage. (Yes, I was naive!) Last weekend, Patrick and I joined our friend Paul and son Ethan for a day hike in New Hampshire. The 2.5 hour drive provided opportunity for lots of knitting on my latest project, the Starshower shawl-cowl hybrid. (Wish I could remember what yarn I’m using, but it was unlabeled in my stash. I’ll poke around and see if I can find the rogue yarn band in the bin.) Fortunately, we had no expectations of solitude or a quiet ascent. The small parking area at the trail head was full when we arrived at 10am, so we joined a dozen or so “overflow” vehicles along the dirt road and began our ascent. We passed and were passed by a range of hikers and dogs — small and large — on the steady climb over rocky trail and switchbacks. Recent rain and mountain springs made the going quite muddy and occasionally slippery, especially on moss-covered rocks. On a clear day, Osceola’s summit offers expansive views of surrounding valleys and peaks in the White Mountains, but when we arrived 1 3/4 hours after starting, it was shrouded in misty clouds. As we ate our lunch and stretched out on the rocks — joined by 20 or so other hikers, about half of whom were Quebecois visiting for the long Thanksgiving weekend — the sun threatened to burn through the clouds. Standing at the edge, we watched the air currents flow up from the valley and glimpsed birds flying through the mist. Suddenly the clouds opened, giving us a view to the bright carpet of leaves across the valley and nearby peaks, including a ski area. After five minutes or so, the curtain closed, and we were again surrounded by swirling clouds. We took that as the cue to begin our descent, returning via the same trail. Our route from the National Forest provided a brilliant reminder of the season’s beauty. Count me among the leaf peepers for life.