As the sweltering embrace of summer reluctantly loosens its grip (an understatement this year!) a magnificent transformation is about to sweep across the landscape, inviting us to revel in the mesmerizing spectacle that is Autumn. Oh, how I love Autumn!
Growing up in New England, I came to love Autumn at a very early age. I think it's because there is an undeniable magic in the air as nature morphs into a kaleidoscope of warm hues, creating a breathtaking masterpiece all around us that captures our hearts, engages our senses and infuses memories in our mind.
Autumn does this for me. It conjures memories of running through leaves on the way to school as a young boy or eating apple pie at my Grandparent's house in their cozy sunroom. My Mom used to make hot, delicious soups for us when my brothers and I came home slightly chilled and hungry after playing outside in it all. It really was a magical season for me . . . and still is.
Autumn, is undeniably a season of transition, a bridge between the exuberance of summer and the serenity of winter. In this symphony of change, nature orchestrates a crescendo of beauty, weaving a narrative of farewell that is as poignant as it is captivating.
Many consider it to be the most incredible time of the year. Gorgeous colors vibrantly encoring the end of summer as the trees put themselves to bed for the long sleep of winter.
Here is lil'ol'Eureka Springs, Arkansas, our town floods with thousands of annual visitors all hoping to achieve a breathtaking view of this beautiful renaissance of nature.
When Jeff and I fell in love with Eureka Springs and moved here in 2018, we never imagined that our little "postage stamp of a mountain cottage" would be smack dab in the middle of Autumn.
Autumn literally envelops our neighborhood, our town and the Ozarks at large -- and we absolutely love it.
Although it can vary year over year, October 25 to November 5 is most often the peak period of time to observe the vibrant show of our changing leaves here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and the surrounds.
Like a skillful painter, nature dips its brush into an enchanting palette of crimson, amber, and gold, meticulously adorning each leaf with the hues of a glorious sunset. The emerald canopy that once shielded us from the sun's fervent gaze transforms into a tapestry of warm and inviting tones, evoking a sense of nostalgia and wonder. It is as if the trees themselves have taken on the role of poets, expressing their final verses through vibrant pigments before yielding to the starkness of winter. The dance of these leaves, caught in the delicate embrace of gravity, serves as a reminder that beauty can be found even in the act of letting go.
The beauty of nature is sometimes found in the profound ‘intelligence’ it exudes. Perennials, which includes trees, must protect themselves in order to get through the harsh, freezing temperatures of winter. If trees did not shed their leaves, their soft vegetation would certainly freeze during wintertime, damaging and, no doubt, killing the tree.
In order to cope with the grueling winter temperatures, trees slowly close off the veins that carry water and nutrients to and from the leaves with a layer of new cells that form at the base of the leaf stem, protecting the limbs and body of the tree. Once the process of new cell creation is complete, water and nutrients no longer flow to and from the leaf - this enables the leaf to die and weaken at the stem, eventually falling gracefully to the ground.
I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time. -Robert Browning
It all starts with photosynthesis. Leaves typically produce their vivid hues of green from spring through summer into early fall through the constant creation of Chlorophyll.
As we all learned in 5th grade science, Chlorophyll is the key component in a plant's ability to turn sunlight into glucose, which in turn feeds the trees. Many millions of these Chlorophyll cells saturate the leaves, ultimately making them appear green to the eye.
Chlorophyll is not the only player in the fall leaf-color game. Flavonols, a part of the flavonoid protein family, are always present in leaves, and also contribute to the yellow color of egg yolks. While always present in leaves, it’s not seen until the production of Chlorophyll begins to slow.
Present in other leaves and trees are the compounds known as Carotenoids and Anthocyanins. As the Fall days begin to get shorter and shorter, the production of Chlorophyll slows to a halt, eventually giving way to the ‘true’ color of the leaf.
Beta-Carotene is one of the most common carotenoids present in most leaves. Strongly absorbing blue and green light, it reflects yellow and red light from the sun, giving leaves their orange hue.
Unlike the carotenoids, anthocyanin production increases dramatically with autumn. This protects the leaf, prolonging its life on the tree through the Autumn season, and also provides the beautiful red color to the leaf.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus
What happens to the fallen leaves?
Earth, among other things, is fantastic at recycling. Whether through the water cycle, or the slow process of decomposing plants and trees back into rich soil, the Earth wastes very little.
When leaves fall to the ground, they begin to break down and eventually create a rich humus on the forest floor that absorbs dew and rainfall. This nutrient rich ‘sponge’ acts as a continual source of nutrients and water for trees and plants, helping to promote life and plant health in the next spring season.
It is not difficult to conclude that while the falling of the leaves protects the trees through winter, it’s likely that trees would not survive as well without the rich layer of dead leaves through the warm spring and summer months. In this way, trees' natural cycle provides health and sustainability for itself year after year.
With the world outside embracing change, autumn invites us to turn our focus inward, to seek solace in the warmth of hearth and home. The crackling of logs in the fireplace and the soft embrace of blankets become the backdrop for cherished moments spent with loved ones. Steaming cups of spiced tea and hot cocoa offer comfort to our souls, while the flickering glow of candles casts a soft and soothing light on our reflections. Autumn's call to coziness is a gentle reminder to slow down, to savor life's simple pleasures, and to find contentment in the present moment.
Autumn, with its vibrant foliage and poetic melancholy, stands as a testament to the profound beauty of transition. It reminds us that change, though often accompanied by a tinge of sadness, is an integral part of existence—a process that enables us to shed the old and make way for the new. The colors that adorn the trees remind us to embrace the fleeting moments that make up the tapestry of our lives.❤️