Summary of Why Leaves Turn Color in the Fall
Why leaves turn color in the fall, she describes how the seasons give way to fall and how the leaves began to change color. She goes into detail on the chemical and scientific process of this change as well as the difference in color among the species of plants in many parts of the world. She even makes a metaphorical reference that the fall colors signal death and goes on to explain how death brings new life in the end. She gives us plenty of information on the chemical and scientific process of how the leaves began to change color.
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She explains that process of color change is directly controlled by the sun’s light. Towards the end of summer the trees start to pull the nutrients back into its trunk and starve off the leaves. As those leaves began to starve, they stop producing the pigment chlorophyll which gives the leaves their green color. The leaves began to show yellow and red as the chlorophyll breaks down. With no pigment being produced, all the leaves will turn color over time. She tells us that there is a pigment called Anthocyanin, which causes the leaves to turn red. This pigment varies from year to year depending on the temperature and sunlight.
She informs that us that this phenomenon occurs all over the world and explains that different trees and species of plants in other parts of the world change to different colors do to the climate. Where as in European maples don’t have the red coloring that the American maples have because it’s a warmer in part of the world then the other. So in Europe the warm, humid weather turns the leaves more of a brown or light yellow color. She gives many references to many different types of plants and the colors they change to. Elms and weeping willows turn a bright yellow, whereas Basswood turns bronze and birches a bright golden color.
She makes reference to the sun as the cause of this change by explaining that one side of hill might have color and not the other cause of more sun exposure. She begins to get into the symbolic aspects of how the color change and fall of the leaves signal the coming of death and change. We see the beautiful colors and in our minds know what fate is next for the leaves. She tells us even though the leaves lose their green; they bloom with colors like aging, and fall dead and brittle. This is the ever repeating cycle of life and death, but with colors that signal that event of the plants life cycle.
She refers to the way the leaves fall randomly in every which direction as a way to remind us that the end of a season is as unpredictable as is the end of life. When we see the changes of the colors in the leaves and the “magic” happening before our eyes, it can be compared to the cycle of life in general. Green like the start of new life, then the colors signifying age in that cycle, then finally the fall of the brittle leave that signals death. She hints at the tender shoots that are protected by the dead leaves that fell, and that thus new life is born from the leaves that fall.