Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Beauty and the Beast

I recently read an article about why leaves change color. Turns out the leaves are always the glorious and varied colors of gold, russet, red, purple and orange. However, during the growing season, these beautiful shades are masked by the hardworking (and very green) chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the wonder chemical that can take a little sunlight, water, carbon dioxide - and abracadabra! - turns it into the carbohydrates needed to nourish the plant.

But when the days get shorter and the nights get colder, the plant stops producing food. The chlorophyll breaks down and disappears, leaving the spectacular "true colors" of autumn to shine through. This artist's palette of color is short-lived, however because as the chlorophyll winds down, the branch grows cells at the point where each leaf is attached - soon the leaf will be severed from the branch and winter will be upon us.

Well, now that I've been a beast and force fed all this science to my innocent readers, here is the beauty I promised. Although I must admit, the colors are not as spectacular as in past years, so I will keep looking for better examples. This post was started last week and I've been walking around with my camera ever since, looking for some worthy foliage. I think the colors have been weak because it has not been cold enough for a dramatic change.

But I can live with that ;-)

This is the little tree-lined road, where I live. Every time I go home and pass by all this beauty, it reminds me to be thankful for every blessing in my life.


Ordinary Janet said...

I love the fall colors! I've noticed that we rarely get the full burst all at once, though, and I always appreciate it when Nature gives us a spectacle. Nice photos-I like the red ones best!

Dr.John said...

Our fall colors were a bit better than that but those are pretty good and the pictures are great.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Thanks for sharing the pics - our colors aren't great this year either - and the heavy wind we had over the weekend it took the leaves down anyway. Now, we just have to deal with getting them out of the yard . . . I hope I have better luck with the leaves than I did with the forsythia!

Kat Campbell said...

Lucky you! All those beautiful trees welcoming you home every day. These colors look pretty darn good for this kind of year.

Heimdallr said...

What gorgeous photos sunflower what a lovely walk that must be ~ and I enjoyed reading the science. Thank you.

Velvet Sacks said...

Thanks for the lovely photos and for the science lesson, too. I had no idea!

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Sunflower Optimism,
so there is literally
magic in the air

Beautiful pictures my favourite colours, the beauty seems to last a little longer in the country too

In the cities like, the snow, the leaves soon turn black and into messy mulch, but alas the cycle of life, a little faster a little slower everything once for a moment here gets recycled back.

Sunflower Optimism said...

I live for the fall colors, Janet! My favorites are the orangey-gold ones - almost like the blush on a peach.

Ahh, Dr. John - then it must be a bit colder where you are? We had a mild fall. Yesterday was a beautiful day for photos, but I was unfortunately busy with other than blogs. It happens. Today it is raining which makes for dramatic contrasts in color (but not so good for my camera!)

Yes, we had the the high winds also, Rev. Kate. I hate when the colors come out slowly, like this year - then we get a series of storms and lose the leaves before getting a chance to enjoy them. That landscaper that you're hiring for the forsythia - doesn't he do fall clean-ups? ;-)

Yes, Kat, we are blessed here - and to think I grew up in an apartment building in NYC! I am amazed at how much my life has changed.

Sandy, I'm glad you liked the photos and the science. Although I have been in the arts for many years, my first degree was in engineering so I always enjoy the "why" of things.

Velvet, the photos don't do the colors justice. The eyes see it differently than a camera. When complementary colors (like red and green) are near each other, the brain processes the colors in such a way that they really "pop." The camera can't duplicate what the brain "sees." But there I go with the science again! I hope I brought some feel of fall color to you since you have said that fall in LA is a bit lukewarm.

There are a lot less trees in the city, Quasar - so the color doesn't hit you WHAM in the face, as in the country. I will certainly enjoy this magic, as long as it lasts, because you are right - ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Betty said...

Those were beautiful pictures. You live in a beautifu; place.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thank you Betty, I'm glad you liked them. The weather is supposed to be beautiful the next few days, so I will take my camera out in search of the elusive Perfect Fall Foliage. The leaves have developed a bit more and I think we are right on the cusp between brilliant color and fallen leaves.

We are blessed to live in a lovely area. Up the road and across the street is a horse farm, visible in the first photo. I cringe to think of the day when they might sell it to a developer.

The TechnoBabe said...

How blessed you are to live there; you have a gorgeous view every time you go home. We are city dwellers and live in an artsy community. It has been years since I have seen such a sight as your street except in photos. Thanks for putting thise pics in your post.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thanks for visiting, TechnoBabe! Glad you liked it - yes, we are blessed to be here. But if you look at some of my other entries - you will see that I am a city girl at heart - NYC, born and raised.

Your community sounds like one I would like - artsy always catches my attention!