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Column: Take time to take in the autumn colors

Our Minnesota state forestry and climatology officials predict a stunning fall of vibrant foliage for leaf peeping.

The fall kaleidoscope of autumn's glory was subdued over the past four years because of dry conditions. This year we had the perfect amount of moisture and sunshine for healthy trees, abundant vegetation and good pigment in the leaves. The cool temperature and sunny days brought out the fiery reds, blazing oranges, vivid yellows and stunning peach and deep purple hues. There's no more magnificent time to slow down and savor the constantly changing color of fall days than with an autumn road trip.

Peak fall color arrives in the northern third of the state in mid-September to early October, and southern Minnesota late September to mid-October. We always said the scenic view of fall's finest foliage travels south 100 miles per week. Looking out our windows, we see the lush, deep green of summer is slowly disappearing and being replaced with a lighter lime green.

This year Mother Nature is painting a spectacular Minnesota kaleidoscope of rustic colors and her autumn rainbow on the green canvas of summer. With a chill in the air and vibrant colorations blazing along scenic back roads the fall foliage just glows on sunny days. The stunning, vibrant foliage tucked away in the valley of fall colors remind us it won't last long. The fall conditions change very rapidly with high winds, rain and/or frost.

Now is the perfect time to call a friend, or a neighbor or pack up the family for a ride along the river and enjoy the parade of fast changing gorgeous autumns hues. We are blessed, as we can go along the Mississippi down the Wisconsin side and come back on Highway 61 or we can drive south on 169 along the Minnesota River.

These valleys are breathtaking even on cloudy days but so much brighter when the sun is out. Stop in at a little dinner for lunch or take a picnic along. Shop at a roadside stand for vegetables, honey, apples, cider, pumpkins or squash.

Squash is the best I've enjoyed in years, deep yellow, sweet and delicious.

If you are lucky you might even find a sign that directs you to side stand that sells Michigan peaches. They are a little more expensive but so very very good. Buy a flat because if you don't you will regret it all year long.

This is Minnesota. Our weather changes fast. Pick a sunny day and enjoy the inspiration of autumn in Minnesota.

Autumn salad

3 Honey crisp apples, cored and cut in bite size pieces

1 cup green grapes, cut in half

1 cup diced celery

2/3 cups mayonnaise

4 tablespoons maple syrup

Combine apples, celery and grapes. Whisk mayonnaise and maple syrup. Fold in fruit and sprinkle with walnuts. Chill until serving. Yield: six servings