So long summer. It’s been nice knowing you. Certainly, I have thoroughly enjoyed our summer this year. The UK enjoyed glorious summer sunshine; I lost count on how many blue-skies I woke to. There was a lot to cheer on, although we won’t mention the football but will give huge thumbs up to the Tour de France hitting the British shores.
Yet the 23rd September marked the first day of autumn. The nights have a distinct chill about them. I personally haven’t succumbed to turning the heating on as yet, but it’s drawing ever nearer to being the case.
So while I love the summer months I do love the colours of autumn. It’s an explosion of colour. Red, gold, yellow, brown and green all come together to create a natural wonder. As the trees begin to shed their leaves, they create a food factory for nature.
Now I cannot recall all of my science from school; the advancing years have taken care of many of those brain cells. However I do remember that leaves are made up of three compounds called chlorophyll, carotenoids, flavonoids – it is strange how you can dredge these facts up; you’ll be thankful dear reader come that quiz night!
So with that little knowledge, I wanted to understand why leaves change colour.
Well… Plants need sunshine and warm temperatures to produce chlorophyll so as the nights draw in and autumn begins, the chlorophyll production slows, and the existing amounts of chemical compounds in the leaves decomposes. As a result, other compounds, the carotenoids and flavonoids, present in the leaves are more noticeable.
As the days get darker, their synthesis begins because of the increased concentration of sugars in the leaves, combined with light.
No one is exactly sure why they do this, but some scientists think they may perform some light-protective role, allowing the tree to protect its leaves and stop them from falling for the maximum amount of time.
This, to me, is wonderful. I work all day surrounded by some wonderful technology from some of the greatest companies – Cisco, Netgear, DataCel, TP-Link, Dymo and many, many others and yet nature in all of its beauty never ceases to amaze and astound. It is full of wonder and mystery. I mean, did you know:
A mouse can fit through a hole the size of a ballpoint pen?
Goats and other hooved animals have rectangular pupils?
If you drop a tarantula it will shatter?
And don’t get me started on our own bodies. Ever wondered why the wrinkles that appear on our fingertips when you’re having a soak in the tub appear? They are nature’s answer to slippery fingers and help us grip better.
Oh and space travel and life beyond our universe!! There is life right?
Yes, nature is a wonderful thing. I’m off to enjoy some leaf crunching!
Until next time…