Seven Lakes Drive-The opalescence of fall colours

Uday Kumar Varma

The enchanting beauty and splendor of the colors of New England ‘Fall’ enticed me to visit the Seven Lakes Drive, a scenic spot where thousands throng to enjoy the bright, vibrant and mesmerizing colors of Fall- golden, red, orange, brown, purple and multitude variations of  each. The experience was an exceptionally rewarding one offering serenity and peace, deeply humbling as well, as one witnessed such a generous display of the beauty and grandeur of nature. It also reminded of the perils that this planet faces as we collectively pursue policies of perdition and plunder leading to an irreversible position tipping the balance permanently against our survival.

John Keats called it a ’Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’; and Emile Bronte musically described,’ Every leaf speaks bliss to me; Fluttering from the autumn tree’. Robert Louis Stevenson referred  to the fire of autumn, ‘Flowers in the summer, Fires in the fall!’ , while Robert Frost mused,’Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold!’  The golden season of the year, Autumn celebrates its splendor these days.

The Fabled Fall of New England

Called Fall in US it is a season uniquely fusing and synthesizing colors and coolness. As the temperatures begin to take a downward dive while the mellowing sun still burns bright and warm, it is a perfect time to witness the glorious transformation around you as the ubiquitous and perseverant green gradually starts making way for the gold, yellow, orange and purple, producing in the process a bright multi-hued radiance, unmatched in beauty and magic.

Thousands throng to New England in US, in the month of October to witness the riot of Fall colors. It is indeed a riot, because the colors, brown, red, orange, purple, mauve and countless shades of each, invade the countryside and completely overwhelm everything around them.The spectacle that the foliage unfolds is unsurpassed in majesty and vibrancy.

Hundreds of cars carrying eager and excited onlookers, nature lovers, merry-makers,  students of the science; and practitioners of craft of fall colours, descend to this area, soaking in the richness, the variety and the brilliance of the colors in endless shades and hues, impossible to replicate on any canvas conceived by  human imagination. 

Seven Lakes Drive, New York, USA

Seven Lakes Drive

One such location is Seven Lakes Drive located in New York State, about an hour’s drive from the city.

Its a fabled drive because it takes you to picture-postcard sites. The lakes, a cluster of them, located in close proximity to each other and ringed by undulating low hills offer a scenic setting so beautiful that no words or images do justice to the sublime and blessed feeling of peace, serenity and solace as you stand bewitched at their side.

As you stand still, mesmerized by the colorful reflection of the multi hued forest and the fluffy patched of light clouds floating in azure sky, in the tranquil serene spread of water, you feel calmed and blessed, your frazzled mind experiencing instant reparation. 

Seven Lakes Drive is a north–south parkway located in the Hudson Valley region of New York in the United States. As its name implies, Seven Lakes Drive passes by seven lakes located at various points along the road. From south to north, the lakes are Lake Sebago and Lake Kanawauke in the towns of Haverstraw and Tuxedo; Lake Skannatati and Lake Askoti in Tuxedo; Lake Tiorati in Tuxedo and Woodbury; Silver Mine Lake in Woodbury; and Queensboro Lake in Highlands.

It extends for just under 18 miles (29 km) on a northeast–southwest alignment, from the village of Sloatsburg to the town of Stony Point. Most of the highway is located in either Harriman or Bear Mountain state parks, the western terminus being Sloatsburg.

Developed more than three score years ago, the construction of Seven Lake Drive began way back in 1920 with subsequent expansion and improvement in 1960 and 1962. Originally known as Stony Brook Drive because of its proximity to Stony Brook, a tributary of the River Rampao, which in turn meets Hudson, its name was changed to Seven Lakes Drive in 1962 and has remained as such since then.

The driveway designed to cover all the seven lakes through winding undulating forests and crisscrossing a number of brooks, emanating or terminating in these lakes, offers an experience of unparalleled joy and elation.

Lake Tiorati

The largest of these lakes is Lake Tiorati while the smallest is Lake Ascoti, though in terms of scenic beauty the comparisons may be irrelevant as each one of them offer celestial experience. Tiorati, which means ‘Blue Like Sky’ or ‘Sky line’, is the Algonquin word, the dialect  used in these parts years ago. It is a man made lake expanded by dredging the swamp land and constructing a concrete dam. Interestingly, the names of the  lakes are native in origin and from the dialect used earlier in this region. 

This conglomerate of lakes as much enticing and inviting, also offers many avenues of adventure and fun including camping facilities and nature trails, fishing facilities and small row boats, kayaks on hire.

The Glory of Impermanence

The network of lakes at short distances from each other, is a fascinating mosaic of nature. Clear limpid waters, dense foliage that were bursting with myriad colors, and a general serenity that permeates the ambience were a visual feast to the eyes and a nourishing reinforcement to the inner peace that emerges effortlessly as you move around whether in a vehicle or on foot, whether negotiating a trail or just standing still and gazing at the waters being gently swayed by the breeze.

Inevitably, the golden leaves will fall, as even a caressing breeze will pluck them away and bring them down on earth and eventually merge them back with the elements. They will depart to allow the trees to undergo the penance under a cold, white, frozen blanket, to reappear months later, first as tentative, tender, light blossoms , then turning into the boldness of dominating, dark, rich shades of green. And soon nature’s first green begins to turn golden, slowly, unceasingly, confidently till the landscape is lit up by a fire of brown, red, orange, purple, yellow and gold again. Emily Bronte described this parting poignantly,  

“Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.”

The nature’s eternal nature of impermanence was never made evident so tenderly, and yet so tellingly.

Uday Kumar Varma, a 1976 batch IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, was Secretary Information & Broadcasting, member of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and member of the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council, a self-regulatory body for general entertainment channels. As Secretary I&B, he spearheaded the nationwide digitisation programme.

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