The final round of fireworks
We made our way to Holderness, on the shores of the lake many in the state consider its greatest jewel: Squam Lake, immortalized in the movie “On Golden Pond,” starring Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn. This is an old New England summer community of grand estates. For $180 an hour for a group of up to 12, you can hire a private boat for the Fall Foliage tour, where you’re likely to catch sight of migratory birds heading south, along with mergansers, blue heron, cormorants and possibly a bald eagle. Long ago, when my children were young, our family camped overnight on one of these islands. Their father and I wrote a children’s book called “Campout” inspired by the experience.
Looking for vacation ideas this fall? Here are some great escapes in the U.S. and Canada for those who want to explore near and far.
- In Search of Fall Colors on New Hampshire Roads. A novelist looks back on her past as she reveals her favorite autumn spots — and finds some new ones.
- Following the Shamrocks on a Canadian Road Trip. Discovering fields of green and Celtic culture on a coastal drive along Newfoundland’s Irish Loop.
- Setting Sail on the Winding Waterways of California’s Delta. The sprawling system of water and farmland in Northern California is a four-season destination.
- 8 Places to Visit Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway. With an autumnal ombré and cooler temperatures, fall is prime time for journeying along this Appalachian Mountain roadway.
- 8 Things to Do in the Southwest This Fall. Hot-air balloons, sandhill cranes, haunted towns and Hatch chiles are just a few signs of fall in New Mexico and Arizona.
Time. Always at our heels. It was midafternoon, with a whole other side of the state to check out, so we decided to take the highway I’d been trying to avoid, Route 93, as far as Plymouth, then cut across the state to Orford on the Connecticut River — the dividing line between New Hampshire and Vermont. The drive south is particularly lovely when the leaves reach full color, and you can look across the river to Vermont.
It was just after 5 p.m. when we reached the Saint Gaudens National Historical Park in Cornish — a town I lived in once, in another lifetime and wrote about in my memoir, “At Home in the World.” It was the summer home of the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and the center of a group known as The Cornish Art Colony.
What draws me back are the grounds — 370 acres broken into intimate spaces with gardens and reflecting pools and majestic cedars. But the part that knocks me out every time are the gilded bronze statues by Saint-Gaudens in the gardens. One, a larger-than-life-size sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, stands on a high pedestal, positioned in such a way that when a person stands beneath it, Lincoln seems, uncannily, to be looking her directly in the eye.
The estate overlooks a glorious sight — a full view, dead ahead, of Mount Ascutney. I can still remember how, in the fall, that swath of land leading up to the mountain’s highest point lights the sky on fire.