Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 264 - The Leaves Are Changing and So Are We

So I sent my mother an e-card that showed the beautiful autumn colors of orange, brown, yellow and red leaves to my mother. After she viewed it she returned an e-mail telling me how she was just thinking of me and how much I love the leaves turning from green to all these vibrant colors.  She told me she was planning on continuing the ritual she started last year of going down to the back yard and picking some of these leaves up and mailing to me.  I live in Florida now where I don't get to see this awesome beauty.  I miss this time of year. I miss the crisp air, the smell of smoke from fires and the sound of crunching of the leaves.

Do you remember raking leaves into a pile, running and jumping into them and never getting hurt?  I do, and although I know that isn't possible today for me, it was fun then.  Hot cocoa and roasting marshmallows on the fire.  We taught Malte and Gabriele the American tradition of roasting marshmallows on the fire and made some more Smores!  They are so far away from their families that sometimes the right thing to do is send them postcards.  They have done this and now learned about e-cards.

I suppose like the leaves, they will have changed a little this Autumn and when they return be able to share their experiences after they have had shorter nights, cooler temperatures and fallen from their American Branches.  I just wish I could be there to see them in their bright foliage as they share their experiences with their families!

 To view the leaves changing in Cashiers NC click on the link:

To learn HOW all this happens.....

Temperature, rainfall, food supply create a bio-chemistry within leaves between chlorophyll, carotenoids and anthocyanins depending on what plant you are talking about.

  • Chlorophyll, which gives leaves their basic green color. It is necessary for photosynthesis, the chemical reaction that enables plants to use sunlight to manufacture sugars for their food. Trees in the temperate zones store these sugars for their winter dormant period.
  • Carotenoids, which produce yellow, orange, and brown colors in such things as corn, carrots, and daffodils, as well as rutabagas, buttercups, and bananas.
  • Anthocyanins, which give color to such familiar things as cranberries, red apples, concord grapes, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums. They are water soluble and appear in the watery liquid of leaf cells.
Certain colors are characteristic of particular species. Oaks turn red, brown, or russet; hickories, golden bronze; aspen and yellow-poplar, golden yellow; dogwood, purplish red; beech, light tan; and sourwood and black tupelo, crimson. Maples differ species by species-red maple turns brilliant scarlet; sugar maple, orange-red; and black maple, glowing yellow. Striped maple becomes almost colorless. Leaves of some species such as the elms simply shrivel up and fall, exhibiting little color other than drab brown. 

What triggers leaf fall?
In early autumn, in response to the shortening days and declining intensity of sunlight, leaves begin the processes leading up to their fall. The veins that carry fluids into and out of the leaf gradually close off as a layer of cells forms at the base of each leaf. These clogged veins trap sugars in the leaf and promote production of anthocyanins. Once this separation layer is complete and the connecting tissues are sealed off, the leaf is ready to fall.

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