The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

October 22, 2008

The Autumn Leaves: A Study in Contrasts

Filed under: Nature — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 11:44 pm

I have to admit that out of four different seasons to choose from, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t choose Autumn as my favorite time of the year.  In a sense, the whole thing just seems to be one slow descent into winter, complete with the slow decline of temperatures until they reach the customary low-to-mid forties that’ll be sticking around for much of the next few months, the return of the seemingly omnipresent overcast and rain, and eventually the obligatory November windstorms that have an annoying tendency to make a big mess out of things.  That said, the Autumn does have its advantages as well. If you can manage to look over the huge pile of Halloween and/or Christmas paraphernalia sitting in the stores you can just now start to see Thanksgiving off in the distance, and of course, there are the colors of the leaves on the trees. 

For some reason, we seem to think of the Fall as being something where the leaves go from green to some color of their choosing, then the leaves all fall off in a big pile on the ground.  When you live somewhere that has an abundance of trees in many different varieties, you soon find out that it doesn’t really work out that way.  I suppose if there was one appointed time where all of the trees simultaneously shed their leaves it would be a lot more noticeable (and various cultures would probably base some sort of elaborate observance on the designated Time of the Leaf-Dropping, be it festive, religious or superstitious.)  In reality, the whole process is a lot slower and more drawn-out than that.  There’s nothing particularly subtle about having all the leaves on your trees out in the yard turn bright orange and yellow, but when I went out for a short walk to take advantage of the surprisingly clear (and very nearly even warm) weather yesterday, I was surprised to see just how much green actually remains on some of the trees out there.  I have to admit that my knowledge of the various trees doesn’t extend much past the point of  the ones with the pointy needles being pine trees so I couldn’t tell you much info about the different types of trees here, but someone more familiar with the subject can feel free to contribute that info if they like.  After the jump, a few photos of some of the trees near my workplace, and the contrasts between different trees at this time of year.


Surprisingly enough, even though it is now mid to late October, but There are some trees out there that just didn’t seem to get the memo about the whole Autumn thing, and seemed as green and leafy as ever, with just the slightest hints of color here and there.  Of course the season will catch up to them eventually, but they sure seem to be taking their sweet time with the whole thing.

This tree, found near my apartment, is just barely starting to turn a little red around the edges, but for the most part remains defiantly green.

Meanwhile, this particular tree, while still mostly green, has begun to show a bit more color.

On this tree just outside my front door, the color seems to be spreading gradually from the top towards the bottom.  In the background you can see a few other trees that are taking their time with the whole change.

Eventually you start getting to the point where you see more color (in this case yellow with a few highlights of red thrown in) than green…

…and before you know it, the color takes over completely, resulting in some of nature’s most colorful sights, including these orange and magenta leaves (the photo doesn’t show the colors on these very well, but they are pretty bold when you see them firsthand.)

Unfortunately, the colors will eventually fade to brown and the leaves will finally wither away…

And eventually, you’re left with this for the next four or five months.  I’m not sure what these trees are, but there’s quite a few of them lining 156th, and they seem to waste no time at all with the whole falling leaves bit.  They already got the whole leaf-dropping bit done with for the season long before most other trees have even had a chance to think the whole thing over.  Eventually, just about everyone else will catch up to these ones, and a month from now just about every tree will look like this, preparing to spend the winter in leafless anonymity, ready to repeat the whole process over again come the middle of March or so. 

Then again, this is the Evergreen state, and there’s still plenty of trees out there that just decide not to bother with the whole messy Autumn business.  Of course, throughout the long winter we have a tendency to more easily notice the deciduous trees missing their accustomed coat of leaves than we do their coniferous counterparts, even though there’s still plenty of green out there (at least when it’s not too dark outside to see anything in the first place.)  Just remember that this has all happened before since time immemorial, and it will all happen again.  Oh yeah, and there will be blossoms in the Spring too.  In the meantime, just enjoy the show while you still can.


  1. Its kinda crazy that trees turn that many colors huh?! Oh, I miss Washington! Fall is my very FAVORITE season, an it doesn’t seem to be quite as pretty here.

    Comment by Heather — October 23, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  2. […] in on the land.  As I’ve discussed before in a post I did here a couple of years ago (link), You don’t just wake up one day and find that all of the leaves on the trees have turned […]

    Pingback by Random Thoughts: Falling Into Fall, Going for a Swim « The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0 — October 7, 2010 @ 12:30 am

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