Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | September 23, 2012

Autumn 2012

East Machias, Maine, in early October

We are now 24 hours into the 2012 autumn. So what does this mean? Winter, with cold, ice, and snow, will be here in three months.  Better yet, the beginning of autumn means color.

Autumn Forest, Hwys 9 & 192, Washington County, Maine

Leaves of deciduous trees – oaks, maples, aspens, beech, birch, and others – lose their chlorophyll, and expose the other pigments that comprise the leaf’s coloration, which is masked, from spring though summer, by the color green.  Forests become warm looking in reds, purples, yellows, beige, and many in-between shades.   

Color-change is not limited to trees. The green hues of grasses, weeds, vines, and bushes also metamorphose into the warm autumnal colors.  Here, late blooming flowers add blue, violet, white, and rods of gold to fields, meadows, and barrens.    

Blueberry Barren in mid-October

This entire color-change process is technically under the control of photoperiod (the length of daylight), which decreases as the earth rotates toward winter.  But the vagaries of weather and temperature strongly influence this process.  So some years, the color change is spectacular and persistent, and in others, somewhat dull and fleeting.  

Marian on the bicycle trail

Since photoperiod changes with latitude, the development of this autumnal canvas starts at the top and progress toward the bottom, north to south, simultaneously spreading east and west.  Autumn paints a vibrant portrait of the land, before the monotones of winter cover the hemisphere. 

Winter at the Maine Cottage

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© Copyright, Richard Modlin 2012


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