My husband and I booked a fall foliage tour up the Hudson River. We were really excited to see all the changing colors of the leaves in their full glory. We went online to check when the peak colors were supposed to occur in fall 2021 and planned our boat trip accordingly.

It was a beautiful day; the air was crisp and the sun was shining. We were a little concerned since none of the leaves in our backyard seemed to be changing color but we assumed that as we motored farther north, it would be a different story. (We did some research, after all!)

The Manhattan skyline glistened in the sun and city has never looked more attractive. We learned many interesting tidbits of history as we traveled up the river, enjoying the crisp breeze, the escape from the city and the sun on our faces.

The Palisades Park on the Jersey side was lush and…. very green! It was beautiful but there was not a colorful leaf in sight.

We remained hopeful as the journey continued but other than the occasion glimpse of yellow and orange, this was not the fall foliage tour we had imagined. I mean, it was fall and it was foliage but none of the other expected conditions were fulfilled!

We had a choice to make, an attitude to develop. Not only were our expectations unmet but our whole family knew where we were (including some guests from out of town) and we had to prepare to field all their questions about the trip when we returned.

How were the leaves? What did you see? Were you disappointed?

I’m really good at focusing on what’s missing.

The honest answer is that while there was some initial disappointment, I was able to focus on the positive. I love being out on the water. I love the breeze from the river in my face. I love time with my husband. I love getting away.

If I tell myself that the trip was all about the color of the leaves, if I stomp around fussing that I paid to see the leaves change color and didn’t get that, if I complain about money wasted and hopes dashed, I will have had a truly terrible day.

Maybe there would be some justification to my reaction but there would be little pleasure.

But if I tell myself that I had a beautiful day out on the Hudson River with my husband, that the sun shone on us as the skyscrapers sparkled, that we had some quiet alone time (even on a boat filled with passengers) and came back refreshed and renewed, then it was money and time well spent.

I couldn’t change the circumstances of our surroundings. I couldn’t make the leaves suddenly change color (although I would like to give those online map makers a piece of my mind) but I could still have a relaxing day out on the water.

I’m really good at focusing on what’s missing. It wouldn’t be difficult to complain or to try to demand a refund (although I’m sure there’s a disclaimer somewhere in the contract re the NJ Waterway’s inability to guarantee the colors of the foliage) or I could turn it around and enjoy the moment.

Since no action on my part would change the situation, all that was left was to change my attitude. I could have so easily spoiled it, but we ended up having a great day.