Friday, October 14, 2011

A Bit of Color

When I left for work yesterday morning, it was dark. When I got home yesterday evening, it was dark. That, combined with a few days of cloudy drizzly weather, gave me the need to see some color. There were so many beautifully colored leaves brightening the landscape on the last sunny day. I can sense the color leaching from them with every little rain shower. I thought I might feel better if I pulled out a few of the brightly colored leaf shots I collected on Columbus Day. The Flowering Dogwoods were particularly vibrant with their mix of red, orange and yellow leaves.

Sassafras trees were doing their part by adding some gold and yellow to the display. The gold coloration occurs as a transition from yellow to brown. Sometimes the change happens so quickly that gold is only noticeable for a single day.

Sumac wins the prize for bringing the brightest red to the landscape. I did a presentation for some nursing home residents many Octobers ago that involved bringing in a big box of attractive autumn leaves. When I researched my audience, I found that many couldn’t see well and most were not mobile enough to come outside. That eliminated the possibility of a slide show or short outdoor walk. I thought they might enjoy seeing the leaves, so I went out and collected the brightest, most colorful leaves I could find. After introducing myself, I went around the room and dropped a handful of leaves into each person’s lap. I think the people were startled at first, but they soon started picking leaves out of their piles and following along as I described the life histories of the plants that produced the leaves. Soon they were all taking about their leaves and comparing colors or talking about how leaves or plants had impacted their lives. We ended up with leaves all over the room, but the thing I remember most is one woman who kept putting a bright red Sumac leaf in front of her mouth and saying “Look at my ruby red lips.” I think we all had a lot of fun, except for maybe the person who had to clean up all those leaves.

This Flowering Dogwood trended more towards a peach blush. Most colors appeared quickly this year. I’m afraid that by the time we manage another sunny day, the colors will be on the decline.

Sugar Maple leaves produced a lot of bright yellow, but it seems that most of the leaves were blemished with brown spots. When I came home yesterday, the section of our township road that goes through the neighbor’s woods was completely covered with maple leaves. The rain we had during the day must have added just enough weight to pull the leaves free. I suppose this means that I’ll be seeing the start of naked maple trees when I next climb the hill to view the woods.

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