Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Leaves

I don't know about you, but I love the changes of the seasons.  Whether it is the sprouting of new life in Spring or the crisp Fall mornings when the brightly colored leaves are tinged with frost, each day offers something new to enjoy.

My grandmother used to tell me that being able to identify trees by their leaf or bark is one of the signs of a well educated person.  I'm still learning the differences.  But this time of year, it's hard to get past the 'oooh! Isn't this pretty?' 
We all assume that when the weather turns cool, the leaves of our Maples and Oaks will gradually start to change color.  By why do they change?  Well, to put it simply, as the days start to get shorter trees and other plants start to slow down and rest.  Rest from what?  All those green leaves were working and producing sugars to help the plant thrive and grow.  When the plant slows down making Chlorophyll, which is what makes them green, sugar production slows and the other colors of the leaf suddenly appear.  (If you want to read more about this, check out Science Made Simple:

All sorts of critters enjoy the nuts that become ready this time of year.  Black walnuts are hailing down everywhere.  Acorns, too, are coming down by the handful.  Historically the Native Americans would gather the acorns and after soaking them to remove the bitter taste, would dry them so that the acorns could be ground into a flour.  I have been told it tastes a great deal like chickpea flour. 

As you walk along look for the seeds and pods.  Most everyone can identify acorns but do you recognize the conelike seed pods in this picture?  These are from the Tulip Poplar.  When the seedpod dropped from the tree, it looked a great deal like a pine cone.  However after letting it sit and dry, it gradually opened to reveal itself.  

Winter will be here soon.  When you get the opportunity, enjoy what this season offers you.

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