Autumn Leaves

The calendar says autumn started almost three weeks ago. The central Texas landscape doesn’t know it though. I heard a local gardener say that we don’t get our autumn until December around here. I’d say that’s about right.

I was in upstate New York at the end of September last year. This is a view along a country road. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but they are quite pretty. Upstate New York seems to align with the calendar fairly well.

Upstate New York Fall

Upstate New York Fall

Of course, the definition of autumn has more to do with the length of day and the position of the earth along its orbit than with the landscape’s appearance. In North America, it’s considered to start with the September equinox and end at the winter solstice in December.

It’s common to say that the leaves are turning color, but what is actually happening is that they’re losing their cholorophyll, which is what they use in the process of photosynthesis, and gives them a green color. When the green is gone, the leaves’ real color shows.

The whole process is triggered by the shortening day. That’s the cue deciduous trees need to start shutting down for winter. Less daylight, less need for cholorophyll. That’s neat.

The leaves change color even in central Texas. They’re just not as showy about it as in other parts. That makes me appreciate even more the colors we do get.

Here’s a view along a Hill Country back road which I took last year. This is in late November, so the observation about getting our autumn in December is about right.

Hill Country Fall

Hill Country Fall


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