Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Colors of Fall (in and out)

Our Fall coloration isn't what we've come to expect most years. It's been too dry for too long. Still, one of the sugar maples I planted in a row to our north has changed to a lovely shade of red-orange and is almost startling against the plain green-yellow of the weeds.

I planted two rows of maples, actually - about 20 years ago - and these were to serve as my "sugar bush" in the distant future. Well, that time is here and the trees are still quite small, much too tiny to be tapped in the spring. So my hope of collecting sap, boiling it down to syrup and having maple sweetener for my pancakes has been thwarted by not-enough-time-left in my life. No matter! Someone will enjoy these and it will be me who they should thank.

The colors of fall are here all the while, just waiting for the chlorophyll to leave: carotenoids (yellow), anthocyans (red) and anthophylls (orange) now shine on the surface and give a last shout before the first frost.

On our inside porch, Mom's Cymbidium orchid is now beginning to bloom and it is with similar colors of the maple. I remember buying this plant many years ago at an orchid show at the Dayton Mall. I was attracted to it's unusual orange-red coloration. But I thought we'd never actually see it bloom again.

But here it is once again, as it is every fall, and I have Mom to thank for her tender care of this plant. She carries it out on the back porch each spring when the days grow warm and the plant responds at once, greening and looking particularly happy with the outdoor air. There it sits all summer, beneath the shade of the maple, happily soaking in the summer air. A few weeks ago she brought it back inside.

One day recently she came to me and said it was getting ready to bloom again (she can spot it almost before the plant knows it) and we've watched the buds swell. Now, one flower is open.

It is a natural proof that at all times we must look beneath the surface.