October 2018

According to Wikipedia, “autumn leaf color is a phenomenon that affects the normally green leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs by which they take on, during a few weeks in the autumn season, various shades of red, yellow, purple, black, pink, magenta, blue, and brown. The phenomenon is commonly called ‘autumn colours’ in British English and ‘fall colors’ in American English.” The procedure has to do with various pigments. I won’t go into that. Look it up for yourself if you just can’t live without cluttering your brain.

Okay. Do we really need to know all that science stuff when we pile into our cars and become ‘leaf lookers’ here, there, and yonder? Let’s just appreciate God’s creation as the blessing it is.

My husband, Jim, and I normally travel during the holidays, but we occasionally exercise our nomadic tendencies at other times, especially in the fall. We travel on secondary roads as much as possible, their sides lined with brilliant reds and yellows with dappled sunlight filtering through them.

On one such trip, I learned there are several varieties of beech trees, none of which resembled the species that gave its name to my home community. I gobbled the tiny nuts from those between Sunday school and worship service throughout my childhood. The Canadian species are quite different, some with variegated leaves, predominantly pink with narrow green edges, and vice-versa.

One of my favorite places to visit is Maine’s rocky coastline in the Bar Harbor area. The town has become a tourist trap, so we don’t go there. It’s just as well I’ve never cared about going to a beach because there is none here, only huge boulders with surging water crashing around them. Turning my back to this roar before the water mesmerizes me, I face the quietness of the Acadia National Park with its hiking and biking trails.

Throughout Maine, logging is a major industry, therefore destroying the forest growth of hardwoods. Nevertheless, new growth is in various stages and produces the brilliant fall colors of maple trees, in particular, even if not yet the mature trees.

When we think of leaves changing color, our first thought is of deciduous trees. However, let’s think about the pine forests, particularly of eastern Canada and Maine. Unique in my experience is the Eastern larch, a conifer also called Tamarack. Its soft blue-green needles turn golden and drop in the fall. I suppose there are other pine species that lose their needles, but I haven’t seen them.

Throughout Canada, especially the eastern third, and New England, we enjoyed the spectacular color display of many of the same species we have here in the mountains of North Carolina. Jim, my forester husband, easily identified alters, aspens, birch, basswood, and several others, including the various maples.

Since this is MY essay, based on MY travels, I’ll offer MY opinion that, beautiful though fall foliage is in other areas, none is more so than those here in Western North Carolina! October is with us again. Now is the time to come visit the Garden Spot of the World.