The season has definitely changed in the last two weeks or so. The colours of the leaves are shifting, ever so subtly, away from the vibrant green of summer. Inside the trees stores of sugars and starches are being mobilised back into the trunk and chlorophyll is breaking down to reveal the purples, reds, oranges and yellows of anthocyanins and carotenes that are always there, yet until Autumn are masked by green.
I’ve always found this rather thought-provoking. Over several weeks the trees put themselves into suspended animation but the process itself, despite being associated with the death of the year, unmasks colours that in most cases are brighter than Spring blossom. By November though, after the colourful fireworks, the leaves will fall and decompose. I think most people are excited by finding a leaf skeleton in winter. I often find them on my patio though. Mysterious. I don’t find tiny piles of leaf mould nearby- the rest of the leaf seems to evaporate.
By February the piles of leaves that are about to form will have disappeared from view. I find this rather mind-blowing. In a month’s time the roads will be lined with tons of them, yet by early Spring they’ll be indistinguishable from the rest of the soil beneath the tree. All colour will have gone by then, leaving browns and near blacks, yet the leaves will have changed into a form that can be used by countless microorganisms, invertebrates and of course, the trees themselves. It’s a slow, quiet, subtle yet momentous process that forms brand new earth.
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...Nina Nixon... says
I love when the leaves change colour Emma – I think this is one of my favourite things about Autumn and they do put on a magnificent display.
Lovely post on the cycle of life. I've only just noticed the leaves are starting to change colour – quite suddenly it seems.
Annie @ knitsofacto says
Not meaning this to be a morbid comment … I've always said that whenever I die I want to be buried in woodland so my body becomes part of that cycle of renewal and decay that you describe. To feed that earth that fed me, that's how someone once described it to me.
And yes, leaf skeletons are small miracles 🙂
I noticed, just this morning, that the Ash keys are changing colour but the leaves are not, yet.
I get very excited when I spy a leaf skeleton – there is something quite wonderful about them. I'm glad it's not just me! And I think the turning of the leaves is one of the main reasons I love autumn so much. X
I am enjoying watching the gradual decay of the spiral of crab apples I made on my lawn and the ones on the soil beneath the tree which are slowly becoming part of the earth. The cycle of growth and decay never cease to fascinate.
I do love the change of the leaves in autumn, it always seems magical and very beautiful, all those rustle oranges, browns and reds mixed in with the greens and yellows 🙂 lovely to read about why it happens and will go check the links now, safxxx
Sandra (Cherry Heart) says
I've found that I love Autumn much more than I used to. It's quite a beautiful season and so colourful too.
Isn't nature wonderful? Though just when I'd given in to Autumn, today has turned back into Indian Summer… She likes to keep us on our toes!
The Coffee Lady says
I like them on the floor, on pavements, to kick.
Mother nature is so clever and she s us a forever changing colour pallet throughout the year but this time of the year the colours become so strong and rich.
The colours of nature always inspire me in my colour combinations for my handcrafted jewellery designs and I am just working on some bracelets now in golds, red and browns.
It is great to hear that I am not the only one who is inspired by nature.
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