Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Colors

I've always been intrigued by the color changes in leaves each autumn. Evidently there are many "leaf-peepers" who plan vacations to fill their eyes with the glorious hues of transforming leaves every year. Phrenology is the study of timing in nature. Fall's changing colors are linked to cooling temperatures, decreasing sunlight and soil moisture. Once the green layer fades away, a wall goes up between the leaf and the parent tree. The flow of nutrients back and forth ends.

The brilliant colors associated with fall happen when production of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants crucial to photosynthesis, slows down as the days get shorter and the nights grow longer. That triggers the leaves to reveal their yellow, orange and red pigments that are normally hidden from view. In some years, the colors are more vibrant than in other years.

Phrenologists caution that heavy rain, drought-like conditions or temperature extremes can cause dramatic fluctuations year-to-year. Researchers at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Seoul, South Korea use satellites to show the end of the growing season this year was delayed by 6.5 days from 1982 to 2008 in the Northern Hemisphere.

All this money and time spent as well as effort don't impress me as much as a journalist's interview with an 82 year old woman named Nancy Aldrich at Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. She has been keeping her own records since 1975. Her numbers show that color change is a moving target, and she's not willing to go out on a limb in terms of making any declarations."I know I'm vague about it, but so is nature," Nancy said.

Foliage aficionados insist there is nothing that has occurred this year to prevent the nation's leaf peepers from getting their full color fix this autumn. A bigger concern than the timing of the color change in leaves is whether tourists can afford to get out and enjoy the sights.

Fall is still an enigma, and I revel in it!

Alchemy by Barbara Boothe Loyd

Upon a blank canvas alchemy is afoot.
His hues park temporarily on my palette,
mirroring autumn’s vivid colors of
pumpkin, pimento, persimmon, and
cardinal red---revealing the final party
dresses worn by the soon departing leaves.

Always admired for their ability to leave
with flair, their inevitable fading into decay’s
cloudy shades of brown,
they layer themselves at the foot of their
parent tree to sleep through their conversion
Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

  1. The leaves in the illustration are from one tree in our backyard. The variety of changes from green to red, yellow, and orange can be all over or a medley of colors. No two are alike.