Editor's Note: You asked, we answered. In an effort to give you more news you can use, we will be running a biweekly column that answers reader questions. These can be things going on in your town that you've been wondering about, or general "I wonder why ..." inquiries. Our staff of intrepid reporters will dig up the details and pass along the information. Questions? Go ahead, just ask ...
Q: How can I track the fall foliage and when colors will peak in the region?
A: There are several variables that affect fall color, primarily leaf pigment, length of night and weather. Chlorophyll production slows as the nights get longer and the leaves get less exposure to daylight, allowing pigments that contribute to red, orange and yellow hues to dominate the appearance of the leaves. Warm, sunny days and cool, crisp — but not freezing — nights are the ideal conditions for developing vibrant fall foliage.
The first few weeks are typically the best time for foliage in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont. If you want to get more insight about what to watch for and when fall colors will peak, there are several great online fall foliage tracking maps and reports to peruse, and hotlines available to call:
• LeafPeepers: leafpeepers.com or 800-227-6277
• USDA Forest Service's Fall Color Hotline: 1-800-354-4595
• Yankee Magazine: newengland.com/seasons/fall/foliage/live-fall-foliage-map
• Mass Vacation: massvacation.com/fall
Q: Adams, Mass., is know as the birthplace of suffragist Susan B. Anthony, but wasn't the town home to another famous "daughter" who was a spy?
A: Yes. Leontina "Lona" Petka, later known as Lona Cohen and Helen Kroger, was born in Adams on Jan. 11, 1913, one of six daughters to Polish immigrant parents. The family lived on Bellevue Avenue and later owned several tenements on Albert Street. The family abruptly moved to Taftville, Conn., in 1923.
According to the New England Historical Society, Lona Cohen moved to New York City, became a Communist and later became as spy for the Soviet Union, with her husband Morris Cohen, before and after World War II. It was Lona Cohen who smuggled stolen plans for the atomic bomb from New Mexico to Soviet handlers in New York City.
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