Last month you found us visually embracing a single tree. This month we go for the entire forest.
It is autumn in a town populated by deciduous trees. October will show us oranges brighter than marmalade, reds more intense than chile peppers, yellows that make bananas look pale, and browns warmer than our morning coffee. Autumn goes beyond ordinary eye candy to create a visual feast.
No season equals the sheer spectacle of fall, when Mother Nature sheds some of her green clothing and stays for a while in a flaming dress.
As we understand the science of the thing, carotenoids–the pigments responsible for autumn’s yellows and oranges–are always present in tree leaves, but like the brown cell walls are usually hidden by all the green stuff–chlorophyll. In autumn, production of chlorophyll slows down, stops, and finally is gone altogether. The underlying pigments, in the words of a USDA Forest Service website, “are then unmasked and show their colors.”
Anthocyanins, the pigments that produce reds and purples, are, at least to some degree, weather related. Sunny, cool days and chilly but not freezing nights produce the brightest reds and purples. Have we seen this particular autumn before? Not really. Since the weather and other environmental factors are infinitely variable, no two falls are ever the same.
Clear days bring streaks of sun shining through and around leafy filters of brilliant reds and golds. But don’t be deterred by an overcast. If the sky is not too dark, fall’s trees can display an artful moodiness perforated by highly saturated colors.
While it is our mission to suggest where one might go when stepping outside, in this instance we may be belaboring the obvious. Once the trees turn, just stepping outside may bring a great view. While roadside trees near downtown are often severely pruned to protect power lines, many streets in postwar subdivisions are capped with leafy crowns that stretch from curb to curb. Outside the city, Dixboro Rd. and Scio Church Rd. are just two of many tree-lined roads that should show good color. And in this season, we always find ourselves driving along Huron River Dr., where reflections in the river double the viewing pleasure.
Our photo this month was taken along that drive. It’s also a great time to actually be on the river, in a canoe or kayak, savoring the panorama.
Walking the paths in Gallup Park brings spectacular views and avoids the neck strain required to view scenery at car speed. Bob’s brother and sister-in-law, visiting from the concrete deserts of L.A., were awestruck by Gallup in the fall and will come to walk these paths again.
The Arboretum. The Botanical Gardens. Leslie Science & Nature Center. County Farm Park. We are out of space to list more areas where beautiful woods can be found.