“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Friday, 4 November 2011

Autumn Glory

The Autumn colours have been glorious this year - the leaves have been every possible shade of red-russet-copper-brown-gold-yellow-green that the eye could see or the heart could imagine. The sheer beauty of it all has taken my breath away, especially when the multifarious colours have been backlit by sunshine against a vivid blue sky. Which is why I count myself so blessed to live within walking distance of it all, on the outskirts of Salcey Forest, although the wonderful displays of colour have been everywhere this year, not least in the trees lining the roads that I drive along every day.

Autumn in Salcey Forest by Marlene Snee
In his wonderfully funny book Notes from a Big Country, Bill Bryson muses about this wonderful annual display of vivid colour. "What is all the more remarkable about this is that no one knows quite why it happens. In Autumn ... trees prepare for their long winter's slumber by ceasing to manufacture chlorophyll, the chemical that makes their leaves green. The absence of chlorophyll allows other pigments, called carotenoids, which have been present in the leaves all along, to show off a bit. The carotenoids are what account for the yellow and gold of birches, beeches and some oaks, among others. Now here is where it gets interesting. To allow these golden colours to thrive, the trees must continue to feed the leaves even though the leaves are not actually doing anything useful except hanging there looking pretty. Just at a time when a tree ought to be storing up all its energy for use the following spring, it is instead expending a great deal of effort feeding a pigment that brings joy to the hearts of simple folk like me but doesn't do anything for the tree."

It is a mystery, but a beautiful one, and I just wanted to record my thanks to God for it.

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