Monday, September 25, 2006

The sky is Falling!

The sky is Falling!

Happy third day of fall everyone! Or as we call it here in Texas- Same.

This time of year is always the happiest for me; I absolutely love autumn weather. The other day I opened the door for Cody to go out and the morning light was just a bit different, the sky seemed a little deeper blue and the sun was at a different angle. That’s when I knew- Fall is here! I really have no memory of the first year I was here in TX for fall- but last year really never changed from summer through the fall. This year the weather has been fantastic so far. Its in the 50’s in the mornings and really only has gotten into the 80’s during the day.

Why do I love the fall? To me it means that the holidays are near for one; Halloween was always such a great fall holiday when I was young. It means that family will be coming together soon for Thanksgiving. The crispness in the air, the smell of the recent rain, the wind on my face, I love it all. It means that football games will become the excitement for everyone looking forward to bowl games and cheering their favorite teams. The taste of a warm drink on a cold evening watching football sigh what more could you ask for?

And the colors of the leaves, ugh, don’t get me started. I had the privilege of living in the most beautiful state in our country- Colorado (in my opinion) has the most spectacular fall show of anywhere I have seen in person. The mountains are covered in aspen trees that turn the hillsides into glittering golden splendor every autumn, nature’s finest grandeur right there for all of us to enjoy. I miss seeing that every year, it was the time of year I loved to take road trips into the Rockies to see the patchwork quilt Mother Nature has laid out for us. One day Ill go back, I’m not worried- I will see it soon enough. In central Texas we don’t get much of a showing of fall leaves changing colors, although there are some trees that will eventually shed their leaves at Christmas time.

Did you know- that leaves don’t technically FALL off the trees in autumn? Yes it’s true! The leaves are literally pushed off by a layer of cells between the base of the leaf and the branch of the tree. So you could say the tree cuts its own leaves off. With that cellular barrier the leaves will fall off for winter, but if that barrier never developed the leaves would stay on and put the tree into danger of breaking if heavy snow were to fall.

And why do the leaves change colors in the first place? Well I will tell you! As the days become shorter, the trees begin to respond to less and less sunlight by producing less chlorophyll, which keeps the leaves green. Eventually the trees stop producing chlorophyll, which lets the non-dominant carotenoid cells become dominant again and they are the cells that create color. The weather, cloud cover, and freezing nights have a lot to do with the color of the leaves too. If there is more cloud cover during the day and colder nights the leaves will be more yellow than red, and vice versa.



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