Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Color

I can't believe it's fall again, Costco has Christmas Ornaments for sale since August, every grocery store sells big bags of candy for Halloween and turkey recipes adorn the front cover of every decent cooking magazine. And worst of all for us here in Half Moon Bay, the pumpkin traffic slows down every "over the hill" activity tremendously. Can you tell I'm not such a big fan of fall...;-)
What I really like though, are the fall colors.

As mentioned, in Half Moon Bay one color dominates all in October:

The "Pumpkin Color"....

a bit farther away, in Napa Valley it gets a bit more divers...

...where red wine leaves contrast with deep blue grapes and persimmons are abundant.

But for the real deal one needs to travel to Vermont, right?


On a recent trip to Bend, Central Oregon, I was taken away by the sheer beauty of the fall color display. I even overheard a lady telling her friend, that Oregon is right there next to Vermont in it's display of fall colors. Well, I have never been to Vermont, but I can't imagine how it can be any better than what I saw here:

Cultus Lake Aspens and a street scene in downtown Bend

I especially liked the display of fall colors along the Deschutes River, where the colors a beautifully contrasted by the deep black lava:

The scientist in me of course was curious why there is so much fall color in one place, while an other has only a bit. So I tried to research it a bit. I learned, that the red and yellow colors are in the leafs all year round, but are outnumbered by the vital Chlorophyll. As the days grow shorter the Chlorophyll dwindles and the "carotenoide" can take over. But in the Bay Area days grow shorter, too and except a tree here and there there is not much of fall foliage around.
Then I found the answer, needless to say, on Wikipedia:

" Anthocyanins
The reds, the purples, and their blended combinations that decorate autumn foliage come from another group of pigments in the cells called anthocyanins. Unlike the carotenoids, these pigments are not present in the leaf throughout the growing season, but are actively produced towards the end of summer. They develop in late summer in the sap of the cells of the leaf, and this development is the result of complex interactions of many influences — both inside and outside the plant. Their formation depends on the breakdown of sugars in the presence of bright light as the level of phosphate in the leaf is reduced.
During the summer growing season, phosphate is at a high level. It has a vital role in the breakdown of the sugars manufactured by chlorophyll. But in the fall, phosphate, along with the other chemicals and nutrients, moves out of the leaf into the stem of the plant. When this happens, the sugar-breakdown process changes, leading to the production of anthocyanin pigments. The brighter the light during this period, the greater the production of anthocyanins and the more brilliant the resulting color display. When the days of autumn are bright and cool, and the nights are chilly but not freezing, the brightest colorations usually develop.[1]"

Now that explains it, with all the fog, there is certainly no bright light here...;-)

A good enough reason for me to travel...

Aspen Grove

This is just one tree!

Thank you Kathy, for showing me all these beautiful places!

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