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For trees, it's showtime!

New England turns technicolor in October, when even familiar vistas can suddenly dazzle

Leaves show their true colors through roughly the same chemical process that turns bananas yellow: Both lose their green-colored chlorophyll, and the underlying hues are revealed.

But botany lessons aren't what puts hordes of "leaf peepers" into car and bus seats - or maybe onto bicycles or into walking shoes - in New England every October.

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It's showtime! In autumn, even a familiar turn in the road can become something new and spectacular. From the passionate purple of sumacs and dogwoods, to the fiery oranges and radiant reds of maples, to the golden glow of locust and birch, this annual extravaganza feeds the eyes.

Some of these vivid visitors fall on water and become fragile floaters, bound for ... who knows where? Sweeping vistas drop jaws, of course. But stopping for a close look gives other pleasures: Suddenly, the beauty of nature's patterns and designs is revealed in showy ways.