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Gloom-and-Doom Projections Prove Wrong For Foliage Watchers

October 7, 1995

BOSTON (AP) _ Predictions of a summer drought ruining New England’s fall foliage have been all but forgotten amid the familiar explosion of reds, yellows and golds.

``The colors are breathtaking, almost not real,″ said 91-year-old Ruby Twedell, who traveled from Medford, Ore., to Walden Pond in Concord. ``I’m an art teacher and I learn so much about colors from these trees.″

During a drought this summer, when rainfall was inches below normal, gloomy forecasts were heard of a less-than-spectacular foliage season.

In some places in the Northeast, in fact, the leaves have been turning plain old brown and falling off weeks ahead of time.

But officials around New England said it was all a false alarm.

``It’s absolutely beautiful,″ said Bret Teillon, chief of forest protection for the Vermont Department of Forests and Parks. ``It was slightly slower coming on, but it’s lasting longer. It’s been very persistent.″

And with the return of the turning leaves come the ``leaf peepers,″ as the tourists are known.

In Littleton, N.H., Chamber of Commerce secretary Dee Rupert said: ``We’re filled up. We’re reaching into areas people never thought about.″ She said she has a list of about 30 private homes in town where some weary travelers will spend a night this weekend.

Although it’s free to look, the foliage is very important to the New England economy, especially to the small businesses that depend on the busloads of tourists who are deposited at their doors for a few weeks each fall.

Back at Walden Pond, Geri Crane of Jacksonville, Ore., snapped picture after picture and drank in the scenery.

``I always come to visit my friends here in the fall to see this. I love it. I love it! There’s nothing like the change of the leaves. There’s nothing as pretty as this. You can see this nowhere,″

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