Monday, October 19, 2020

Fall Foliage... the Parting Gift.


The weather changed from Autumn to winter with the wind chill that roared in Saturday afternoon from the South West, occasionally twirling around to the North to utterly confuse us. Overnight Mother Nature has begun her seasonal foliage change which always provides a slow-moving breath-taking picturesque display.

Within a few weeks the Caddo Maples will begin to change, reminding the gardener the first freeze will occur within a week. They are unusual in that all of their leaves do not freeze-fall; much of their glorious foliage, although crisp, remains tree-bound until Spring. Just as their color change predicts a coming freeze, these last leaves foretell the arrival of Spring as they are literally tossed from the tree when it is expected to arrive. As the Maples had predicted last year, our first deep freeze roared in early one morning and suddenly Winter was upon us… in a most vengeful manner. 

Trees lose their leaves to give additional sunlight for warmth during the cold winter months and Nature has provided us with a stunning visual as a parting gift. Although the following explanation will be a vast over simplification, it may provide insight into the foliage change. During the spring and summer, the trees use their leaves to collect air and water to turn it into food. The process, called photosynthesis means ‘putting together with light’ so as the days shorten and daylight diminishes, the gathering process ends. The leaf is no longer necessary to the tree and begins its transformation providing breathtaking color for a brief moment in time. 

The chemicals chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the leaf cells throughout the growing season with chlorophyll making leaves the bright green color. As daylight decreases in autumn, chlorophyll production stops and the chlorophyll disappears. With the loss of chlorophyll the carotids, which have been there all along, become visible and display lovely yellow leaf color. Lastly the anthocyanins arrive and take center stage, ushering in the vibrant reds we associate with Autumn. 

Anthocyanins, which are glucose, are singularly responsible for the brilliant hues of purple, crimson, and scarlet. They are a fickle lot, insisting on warm sunny days and crisp evenings to slow the closing of the leaf veins and trap excess sugar produced at this time… if the weather does not comply to their demand, lackluster reds are produced. 

Shade and the foliage show are not all the leaves have to offer… their parting gift is perhaps the most important. As the leaves drift from the trees and collect below they continue to work by slowly decomposing. Over time this process adds nutrients to create a dark rich soil which nourishes the fledgling the saplings as they grow to become forest giants like their parents. Nature is always at work, regardless of the season. 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Two Moons in October

Twenty twenty has been quite a surprising year to date. Of course, it would not be complete without something of Cosmic significance so we have a most unusual happening … the month of October has two Moons. We shall have 13 Moons this year, which is in keeping with the Native calendar.

Native Americans used the moon to tell time by counting from one new moon to the next, known as a lunar cycle. Native Americans assigned names to the moon for each month to keep track of the seasons. Each name is a symbol of what the moon meant to Native Americans by virtue of its use, guidance and influence in their daily lives.

Based on these moon cycles, the Native American year is divided in to 13 moons with each moon being 28 days long. The cycles of the Moon are presented as a message on the back of a turtle as seen below. All Native years begin with spring, the time of rebirth and travel with the cycle of seasonal weather.

For non-Natives October's first full moon is the 'harvest moon' on October 1, and the second full moon will occur on October 31… a full 'blue moon' on Halloween.

The full harvest moon is the name is given to the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. In 2019, the full harvest moon occurred on Friday, September 13.The full harvest moon provides light for farmers harvesting their crops into the night, according to the Farmer's Almanac and the moon will appear full for about three days.

October will also close with a full moon on Halloween. Typically, the next moon after the harvest moon is known as the' hunter's blue moon' for it is when hunters used moonlight to hunt prey and prepare for winter.

While a blue moon seems rare, a full moon on Halloween across time zones is even more rare -- an event that hasn't occurred since 1944. However, a full moon does occur on Halloween every 19 years in some time zones, so you can expect a full Halloween moon again in 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096.

The full Halloween moon will rise at 10:49 am ET on October 31 -- which explains why the moon will be visible across time zones. This is also the last day of Daylight Saving Time, so remember to set your clocks back an hour on November 1 at 2 am.