I figured that this would be the last blast of autumn foliage until next autumn, but this greeting card is too gorgeous and fiery to leave it out of our autumn collection. I actually saw a friend of mine on Facebook who made a comment about being in a town called Wrentham, MA (not very far from Boston) and her comment was, “It’s snowing here.” That was enough for me. So we still have some time to think of this wonderful season, which seems more like this wonderful month!
Have you ever thought of why leaves change color in Autumn or why maple trees turn bright red? I did some research and have a few answers that may interest you. Leaves are nature’s food factories. They use sunlight and chlorophyll to give plants their green color through a process called photosynthesis. When summer ends and winter approaches and the days get shorter, trees “know” it’s time to get ready for winter.
The leaf has actually been preparing for autumn since it started to grow in the spring. Without fresh water to renew the leaf, the chlorophyll begins to disappear. As the bright green fades, we begin to see yellow and orange colors like we see in THASC artist’s Jim Mesick’s painting above. Some of these colors have been in the leaves all along but we can’t see them in summer because they are covered by chlorophyll. The bright reds and purples however are made mostly in the fall. In maple trees like we have in the northeast, the sun and cool autumn nights (when the chlorophyll disappears from the leaves) cause the glucose left in these leaves to turn to a red color. Orange colors come from carotene and the yellows from xanthophylls which are common pigments found in flowers and foods like carrots, bananas and egg yolks.
Jim Mesick’s painting is most definitely the eastern United States where trees like maples, oaks and elms shed all their leaves in the fall in preparation for winter. Other trees like “Evergreens” keep most of their leaves during winter because their special leaves are resistant to cold and moisture loss. They continue to photosynthesize during the winter. We see this evergreen tree as well in Jim’s painting on the left side in contrast to the bright colors of the deciduous trees along the lake. Although these brightly colored trees shed their leaves after a short while, I would prefer to live in the glory of their short life span rather than no color at all as in many parts of our world. Jim Mesick affords us through his precious painting to live this brief love affair with Fall every year. For that, I thank him.
Enjoy the last weekend of Daylight Savings Time,
as we shall FALL BACK on Sunday, November 1.
See you again on Tuesday.