Morning photo of field of amber wheat.
Former Norman Rockwell Home in West Arlington, Vermont
Kelly Stand Road, East Arlington, Vermont

In search of the spectacular photo, last Sunday I drove into heavy fog as I began my trip from Dutchess County, New York on Rt. 22. I hoped it would dissipate so that sun would shine on festive trees. I needed to make the trip this time of year to take photographs of Norman Rockwell’s former house and studio in West Arlington, Vermont. I wanted to post them online to promote my completed manuscript about those who modeled between 1939 and ’53. Our family house is in Sandgate, a couple of miles down the road from where Norman created his beloved paintings My brother Bill, who lives in that town, told me there’s debate on whether Columbus day weekend or the one before offers the best colors. I chose the October 4, weekend.
The fog actually created the background for a haunting photo of a withered tree. Quite nice, I thought. In Wassaic, the sun broke through and meadows and mountains became festive with leaves of brown, yellow, gold and crimson. I had reason to hope the foliage in Vermont would be more spectacular since it’s a couple of hours North. Some miles down the road, I pulled over and snapped a picture of a long field of amber grain where corn silos stood distantly in the background. It had a nice texture to it.
I tuned the radio to classical music and some Baroque complemented the ambiance. I had planned to enjoy a relaxing ride, but soon found myself pulling over often, jumping out, and looking both ways to make sure I wouldn’t get hit by a passing car. My mission became trying to spot clusters of trees that would provide a variety of colors. It’s amazing how many nice scenes are ruined by electric poles and wires. Despite that, the landscape gradually became as bountiful as an apple tree with so many delicious ripe ones that you can’t pick them fast enough. I stopped and photographed a decently shaped tree covered with leaves of bright yellow. I dream of finding the perfectly shaped one of that color backlit by even, soft afternoon sunlight.
In front of a house in New Lebanon on Route 22 a tree with perfectly rounded shape and golden-brown leaves stood in front of a white house. I don’t care if the people come out and ask me what the heck, I’m  doing walking towards their house on the lawn. I’m going to get this one. And I did! It even came with a bonus, a bed of freshly fallen leaves spread out beneath it like a blanket. For a single tree of this color, I won’t be able to beat this scene for a long time.
Before long, tall mountains appeared on the side of the road. On route 22, these mountains are stuffed with trees of festive colors, and they were glorious. At this time on Rt. 22 in New York State, my photos were generally good, but not great, except the one. I knew my best would come in Vermont.
When I arrived on the West Arlington Green, I found the yard of Rockwell’s former home, a 1792 White Colonial, to be covered with a thick bed of those golden-brown leaves, and it was as bounteous. My brother Bill drove over from his place and snapped some publicity photos of me standing by the sign that says, “Rockwell Retreat.” It’s an inn. I stepped over to the studio some yards behind it, zoomed the camera, and got a nice shot of the red studio with its huge front window. Norman loved to paint his models in the natural sunlight shining through. Behind the studio, Big Spruce Mountain had some bright colors to offer. Then Bill took some of me standing by the old pipe-railing by a concrete ramp that leads to the outdoor dance pavilion. Norman would collect tickets and scope the crowd for potential models. He loved to dance with the down-to-earth crowd.  
Down the road, I got a picture of the Wayside Country Store (never expecting it to provide a bevy of likes on Facebook.) It is a quaint building with red clapboards and long sitting porch with swinging chairs. If you go inside, you walk on old wide-plank floors that have been polished by foot traffic. The same bell rings when you open the door as when I was a kid.
Ah, but the best foliage was yet to come. The Kelly Stand is a graveled road in a narrow valley, surrounded by tall, steep mountains. A Vermont-style river with white boulders runs along the nicely maintained road, which begins in East Arlington and ends after an hour-long ride ending in Stratton near the ski resort. But mind you, there is nothing but scattered summer homes along the way. No gas stations, so make sure you’re not running low. And, the road is not maintained during the winter, so if there’s ice and snow, you are on your own then. I bet it can be treacherous. I hate to think about being stuck there with no one else around, possibly for miles.
 I soon discovered plenty of pleasing scenes, rows of trees with a variety of colors. Sometimes they lined the river, which was lovely. I came across a full, bright red bush in front of a home. There were enough multi-colored trees in the background. Really nice photo, but not spectacular. As I drove, another car passed me perhaps every ten minutes, so it was easy to jump out for photos. I got more of nice groves along the river, but not the spectacular one I yearned for. The mountains seemed to stand straight up by the other side of the river, and it felt as I could almost reach out and touch them.
 I decided, being too low on gas and time, not to drive the forty-five minutes more to over the mountain to Stratton. I was disappointed as I did a three-point turn with ditches in front and behind me, because I hadn’t gotten a photo yet that I considered spectacular. It was not until I drove a few miles back towards East Arlington that I saw my glory in front of me. On one side of the river, a nice flow of water made its way between boulders, next to a bright reddish-brown bush. A green fir and others with tender leaves of green, yellow, brown and olive lined the river. Later, this one got great comments on Facebook, “Wow…Great photo…Spectacular.
I was worn from scoping roadsides, mountains and meadows, and jumping out of my car to snap photos,  so I took it easy on my ride home. I had made a vow of no more photos and stuck to it.This week in Westchester Country, where I work, the foliage is a week or two behind. I’m still hoping to come across that perfectly shaped and backlit tree of yellow. I’ll never give up on that!