What will the fall color be like this year? Starting every summer and extending well into October, that’s a question that Yankee’s resident foliage expert, Jim Salge, hears quite a bit. Salge knows autumn, New England, and leaves as few others do: A former meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory, he’s long been a keen observer of the progression of the seasons in our region.
All through the year, this New Hampshire resident, photographer, and high school science teacher can often be found outdoors, exploring and documenting the landscape, but he’s busiest in fall, when he files his popular weekly foliage reports on NewEngland.com. We recently caught up with Salge, who is featured in season 2 of Weekends with Yankee.
Q&A with New England Foliage Expert Jim Salge
WWY: Your work is rooted in your love of the outdoors. Did your passion for New England’s landscapes spark your initial interest in photography?
JS: Absolutely. I moved to New England when I began working at the Mount Washington Observatory and was living in the alpine zone. Witnessing some of the most spectacular landscapes in the region definitely inspired me to share my experiences through words and photographs. But when I started I had no experience in photography, so what I was able to capture initially was far from what I was actually seeing. Thankfully, working at the observatory and being part of the outdoors community put me in contact with so many people willing to share their talents and experiences. I owe my growth as a photographer not only to my drive to accurately portray what I saw, but also to the kindness of the community.
WWY: What keeps you coming back to outdoor photography?
JS: A lot of it is the same thing that keeps me coming back to the outdoors in general. I love watching a sunrise from my kayak, or a sunset from a ledge. I look forward to seeing spring flowers in the woods and the first snow on a mountain peak as much as I do the changing autumn leaves. I could go on. I have a long list of scenes that I’m waiting on perfect conditions to shoot— and that list is only getting longer!
WWY: With your NewEngland.com reports, you’ve managed to do the impossible: present foliage in a new way each year. What’s your secret?
JS: I’ve made it a point to really see how different people and communities experience autumn, and to try to find ways to experience and share that. Fall is a season of great change, and a lot of work goes into the transition and preparation for winter. This looks very different for farmers and boaters, for hikers and rail enthusiasts, for bird-watchers and shop owners. We often think of autumn as just one thing, and it’s not. There are so many different ways that it’s represented, and I love showing that.
WWY: So forgive us, but we have to ask: What will the color will be like this year?
JS: We need more information to make a full picture, but early markers are favorable for a great pageantry of colors. But as always, time will tell!