Rain fell on my summer vacation, but I don't mind. This fall, I'll see the payoff.

When leaves are healthy, fortified with ample rainfall, they produce intense displays of autumn colors.

"We can predict the colors will be awesome," said Val Cervenka, a natural resources consultant with the forestry division of Minnesota's DNR.

She noted that if warm weather persists, the shift to autumn hues could be delayed. Chilly nights, even mild frosts, bring on the colors, she said.

Where will the best shows be? On western prairies, big bluestem grass is turning a deeper purple, and asters and goldenrod add depth. A mix of colors should brighten the center of the state, Bluff Country and other hilly places that nurture a variety of tree species.

Cervenka's enthusiasm for the upcoming autumn displays came with a few warnings. Too much rain could leach color from the leaves. In drought conditions, leaves can drop before they change. "That could happen in northwestern Minnesota, the driest pocket of the state," she said.