As Labor Day fades quickly into our already softening memories of summer, only the most pedantic insist on pointing out that summer isn't, in fact, over quite yet.

But with the start of autumn on September 22, it's high time to plot your course for fall foliage viewing -- if you haven't already made plans.

In New England, the unofficial world capital of fall color, conditions are ripe for an early (and possibly epic) display, writes Yankee magazine meteorologist Jim Salge:

I would say that chances are good for an autumn season that comes a bit early, especially in the western portions of the region. I would also say that the trees in New England have been through some rather unprecedented events in the past year, and it is therefore difficult to predict the strength of the overall colors -- but conditions could be favorable for the development of red pigments this autumn.

For a bit of fall travel inspiration, we've collected some colorful, compelling foliage photos from years past. May they remind you that, as always, the seasons march inexorably on, whether we're ready for change or not.

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  • The full moon rises behind a sea of fall foliage along Highway AL-67 near Priceville, Ala. Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Jeronimo Nisa)

  • Sunlight falls on remaining bright foliage as the snow capped ski trails of Stowe ski resort are seen on the side of Mt. Mansfield in Stowe , Vt. Mountain and lake views along with fall foliage can be had for free in Vermont's largest city of Burlington, which feels more like a big town than a city. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

  • A couple takes a stroll amid the Tiergarten's autumn foliage in Berlin November 4, 2011. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Women take a rest during their lunch break under trees with fall foliage in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

  • A jogger runs through Tiergarten park among trees rich in fall foliage on November 1, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

  • A house is surrounded by fall foliage colors covered with heavy wet snow in Williamstown, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

  • Fall foliage is seen at Rock State Park begins near Danbury, N.C., Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

  • Fall colors are seen Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 in East Montpelier, Vt. Vermont's annual foliage season is reaching its peak across the state. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

  • Fall colors frame a red barn on Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 in East Montpelier, Vt. Vermont's annual foliage season is reaching its peak across the state.(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

  • Fallen maple leaves carpet a lawn across the street from the First Baptist Church of Kingfield, Maine, Friday, Sept. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

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