Oh, the Leaves

P1000605With October here in Utah have come shorter days and cooler evenings, two of nature’s signals to deciduous trees to start shutting down for winter.   Accordiing to ZME Science, the chlorophyll in their leaves, which gave the leaves their green color, begins to break down, revealing other pigments that were hidden during the summer.  Leaves also contain the pigments called carotenoids; xanthophylls are yellow (such as in corn) and carotenes are orange (like in carrots).  Sugars stored within the leaves break down, producing bright red anthocyanins (which also help protect the tree while the leaves are fading).   The tree begins do build a protective layer between the leaves and its branches that eventually cause the leaves to fall off.  Even from our front porch we can see the foliage on the Wasach Mountain changing colors.  Oh, the leaves, you, hear people saying, and Oh, Fall is my favorite seasonIt’s not contest, cautions my favorite comedian, Jim Gaffigan, scolding us tongue-in-cheek for getting so much pleasure out of watching the leaves die (watch here).

I grew up in New England, where the colors of autumn are most brilliant largely due to the presence of maple trees.   My Mom loved autumn … in fact, her favorite song was Autumn Leaves.  She taught us to collect particularly pretty leaves and dip them in hot paraffin to preserve the colors into early winter.  To my Dad, the colors were a reminder that soon we’d be raking the leaves into huge piles, him trying to keep us from spreading them all over the yard by jumping in the piles before he could burn them. Those were simpler times when no one worried about air pollution.  For those of us who grew up back then, the smell of burning leaves is as much a part of the season as the fall colors.  Perhaps my best autumn memory was driving my first car, an Alfa Romeo Spyder convertible. along Connecticut’s winding roads, with my wife to be beside me, and the leaves billowing up behind us in technicolor profusion.

Yesterday, we picked up our friends, Gary and Julie, and headed into the Wasatch Mountains via Provo Canyon.  In any weather, Provo Canyon is beautiful, but with the foliage changing color, it is spectacular, especially around the 607 foot high Bridal Veil Falls.  My Mom would have loved it.  Here are a few of photos.  Enjoy!

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