The Smoky Mountains National Park has released its 2015 Fall Foliage Map, which shows when different parts of the US will be experiencing peak leaf-changing pulchritude.
The path of transformation travels slowly southward. Manhattan residents should see trees hitting their peak beauty around October 3rd, while Los Angeles denizens will have to wait until Halloween.
The link also contains some scientific background on what causes foliage to change colors, most of which you probably already know.
But this leaf map, as pretty and useful as it is, is really an excuse for me to launch a defense of my favorite season. The first day of fall was yesterday, and every year it seems the battle between warm weather fans and cold weather lovers gets more and more heated. Sure, summer has swimming pools and popsicles and picnics in the park. And shorter days are an unequivocal bummer—I'll concede to that.
But even if you prefer the summer months, the fall/early winter period has a lot going for it. If you live in an urban area, the air smells noticeably better. You're not sweaty all the time. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the various denominational holidays are all waiting for you, with awesome parties, apple cider with bourbon in it, the rollercoaster hilarity of family time and the ensuing dysfunction, getting to accessorize with scarves, and seeing dogs wearing sweaters.
So don't dread the autumnal equinox. Let the snap in the air wash over you. Use your slow cooker to make mulled wine. And if you're really that miserable, ask for a therapy lamp for whatever holiday you celebrate.