In the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, we are fortunate to live where we can experience the splendor of four different seasons. The crisp, glittering cold of winter; the airy pastels of a fresh green spring; the fullness and deep green of summer; and the glorious display of fall.
For many of us in the Smokies, autumn is the season we most appreciate. With cool, comfortable evenings and a more gentle, softer glow from the sun, autumn is the canvas for nature's most brilliant brush strokes. The yellows and golds of the Buckeye and Cottonwoods blend beautifully with the silver, purple and red of the Sweet Gum. Countless shades of red....running from barely orange Sassafras leaves, through the brownish rust of Oaks and Sycamores, to the brilliant scarlet of Sugar Maples and Dogwoods.
This colorful display is not only for trees as many other plants get in on the act too. Some grasses turn beautiful shades of yellow and gold, and Poison Ivy leaves develop reds so vibrant, they sometimes appear metallic.
What Causes this Marvelous Transformation?
How are the Colors of Different Plants and Trees Determined?
Scientists, Botanists and Biologists have many answers and logical reasons as to why all the fall foliage colorization takes places. They talk of loss of chlorophyll - the green stuff in plants. There's mention of the yellow agents, carotene and xanthophyll. They bring up the cooler nights and bright sunshine of autumn days as causes for chemical changes which result in color changes. There's usually even mention of the red pigments, anthocyanins, formed when natural sugar, glucose, is trapped in a dying leaf. Oh yes, no scientific discussion of the leaves of autumn would be complete without mention of abscission. This is what gives the term "fall" meaning. Abscission is the process which causes trees to lose their leaves. Or at least, so say those scientists.
I have a completely different version. In my version, the coloring and eventual dropping of the leaves is a carefully orchestrated performance. Much like the fireworks finale at the Patriot Festival. It's the Creator's way, and so obviously so, of topping off His magnificent performance of the preceding season - summer. That was a tough act to follow, but to me, autumn is the cymbal at the end of summer's crescendo. ~