October is typically the month when you'll think about heading up to The Place upstate, basking in the colorful rolling hills, picking apples, and holding crisp dead leaves in your bare hands while staring into the abyss of winter and wearing a cozy sweater. "Maybe I'll take up knitting," you'll think, at least once. Every inhalation of the crisp air reminiscent of a different autumnal Yankee Candle scent. It's Apple Cider Doughnuts For Breakfast season, and you are here for it. But is it here for you?

The very important background of this seasonal Hallmark movie you've created is the all-important fall foliage, of course... and it seems to have come pretty early this year, amidst some 80-degree September days. So where are we at now that it's October?

We reached out to the New York Botanical Garden, and one of their horticulture curators, Deanna Curtis, told us we're right on track: "Although the leaves in New York are changing color earlier than last year, this year’s autumn foliage display actually is not early. It only seems so because last year’s peak foliage was unusually late due to increased precipitation and warmer temperatures last fall. This year, we are back on track for typical peak foliage times within our region."

Last year on this week, we were seeing "just changing" to "mid-point" on the fall foliage map, but this year much of New York State is already seeing the leaves change, and areas like The Catskills, which weren't seeing any color last year at this time, are already at peak foliage.

Above is this year's map, and below is 2018's (for the same week):

The fall foliage map for the first week of October LAST YEAR, 2018.

These maps, by the way, are created by human-gathered data, not, say, drones, robots or algorithms. Here's the sweet, somewhat Rockwellian story behind how they're made:

Jim Carroll and Regina Rockburn have been Leaf Peeping in the Adirondacks around Tupper Lake for nearly 20 years. Lured in by an ad in the local newspaper, they have always loved taking hikes and photos, so leaf peeping seemed like a natural integration into their life. On the daily, they wander to local areas such as The Wild Center to look at foliage and often use crayons, fruits, veggies and Benjamin Moore colors to describe the rich spectrum of hues that they uncover. According to them, most people love the deep reds, especially Sugar Maple. Every Wednesday morning, they send their report (many by phone) to Eric Scheffel, the Public Information Specialist for I LOVE NEW YORK, who then compiles the information into a state-wide map. Their report includes: Predominant Colors, Brilliance, Rating, Percentage of trees changed and more. In a world obsessed with instantaneous data collection and precision, it’s a heartwarming reality to see that a map created to inspire passionate fall travel is, in fact, created by a collection of people who are passionate about fall.

If you want to become a part the New York State Leaf Peeper Program (there are around 75 in New York State), you can send an email to foliage@esd.ny.gov to sign up.