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Did I Miss Something?

October 17, 2011  •  Leave a Comment


Yeah I think I did! I missed the fall foliage season!
I had to wonder...
...was it because I was working a lot?
...was it because I had misjudged the season time frame?

Hummm looking at the trees in Maine it almost looks like they are burnt. Most have dry dark leaves. I think even the weatherman is confused. Each week he gives his foliage report and continues to make it sound like life is bursting with red, oranges (my personal fav)and yellow. So far, all I have been able to find is some greeny looking yellow which I have affectionately renamed grellow.

I have spent hours, even days looking for the foliage. I drove to Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Mexico, Bath, Boothbay, Damarscotta, Rumford, Newport, Naples, Newry, Bethel, Mechanic Falls, Norway, So Paris and who knows where else. It all seems to look the same. Then...
Came to rain! Crap now it's washing away the grellow!! No!!

That's it I'm on a mission to figure this out. If I can understand what causes the color change maybe, just maybe I can figure out what causes the lack of color. Then if I'm really good I may be able to figure out where it is hiding.

In easy terms the colors of fall are an effect of a tree's growth factory shutting down for the winter. Winter is a bad time for growing: too little water, too little sun, and too much cold. Because of this trees stop producing chlorophyll,and begin to store sugars that they can use for antifreeze protection.

To begin the sealing-off process, the tree grows a membrane between each branch and leaf stem. The membrane hinders the flow of nutrients into the leaf which stops the leaf from making new chlorophyll. The old chlorophyll quickly decomposes and the leaf's green color fades.

If the leaf contains carotene, like in a birch tree, aspens, and cottonwoods for example, the fading leaf will change from green to yellow. Carotene, takes over and persists in leaves even after all the chlorophyll is gone. The leaves of those trees now look yellow.

The sealing membrane not only stops the inward nutrient flow but also blocks the outward flow of sugar, trapping it in the leaf. The blocked leaf sugar in some trees, like maples, oaks and sumacs reacts to form a red pigment, called anthocyanins. The brighter the summer the more vivid the red.

Lets not forget that the rainfall experienced during the summer determines how healthy the tree will be during the growing season which will affect the vibrant color it will produce.

So to sum up, we need a balance and healthy amount of sun and moisture during a trees growing season, warm days in early fall with cool crisp nights. Cool but not a freeze. Now if I remember correctly we had a dry July. I'm not even sure if it rained all month. That could be a major contributor. An early frost can cause leaves to fall before they even get a chance to change color.

Okay so let's look for an area with lot's of water, sun and offers somewhat of a shelter from wind and is in a confined space that can also help ward off frost by holding onto the warmth of the days sun.

Hummmm- How about a small cove? Maybe a sheltered waterfall off the mountains? BINGO!

My unofficial suggestion for anyone that is hoping to see some vibrant colors before the season is over is to look for small bodies of water that are sheltered from the wind. This can come in the form of a cove, maybe an area that has runoff from a mountainous zone.

Good luck in your search. I would love to see or hear how you make out in your own personal quest.
Check out my images at www.sevastra.com be sure to check out the Colors of Fall gallery.


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