Have you ever looked at the leaves of a tree as they change from green to yellow, to red to brown as the seasons change? Have you ever stopped to look at the leaves during each of the seasons and observe the color and texture of the leaves?
In Utah, we are blessed to have all four seasons, which allows us to break up the colors and moods of the 12 calendar months. For me, October is a delightful month when it comes to fall colors, from the valley floor to the mountain tops.
It is generally understood that the fall colors are a result of shorter days and cooler temperatures. This is a transition from the warm growing season to the dormant plant life of winter. The change in seasons is the result of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, and spreads the warmth of the sun on our planet.
During the warm season, the leaves of the trees are green with chlorophyll in the leaves to absorb sunlight and convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates for the tree’s growth. Many trees grow fruit during this process, but with the shorter days and cool temperatures this food making process stops. The green chlorophyll breaks down and the red, yellow and orange colors become the fall colors that we see emerging now.
But, there is another amazing part of the story. As the colors change, another change occurs. A layer of cells develop at the stem of the leaf where it is attached to the tree. This occurs so the un-needed leaf can drop off and be blown away. This process that many of us see as the moment of death for the tree (for a time at least) is in fact keeps the tree sap from leaking out, allowing the tree to stay alive during the winter months. It is an incredible adaptation for the coming season.
How can we not appreciate the tree as a creation with a divine hand in the design? I believe it is the work of a holy power. Thinking about this leaf process certainly makes one believe in miracles.