Hello fellow readers, On September 22nd, the first day of fall, our weather seemed to turn a switch, and leaves began to drop. It’s no surprise that the early leaf changers and droppers, customarily maples, show wounds from the growing season. I stumbled upon one such leaf while on the road walk with Miss Ellie. It was adorned with tawny brown edges and splotches of vibrant, happy yellow, the first color to show in the fall color shift. Mottled with its summer lime-green hue, its exquisite band of lace-like holes especially caught my eye. As evidenced by the brown edges, fungi likely made the leaf prone to insect damage that shaped the extraordinary lace.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac released their 2018 Fall Foliage Forecast stating a Vivid Northeast but Mixed Bag Elsewhere with a subtitle- Mixed Predictions Due to a Wet, Warm Summer. They report, “Due to only a moderately rainy summer, we expect fall foliage in the Northeast to be excellent this year. (If the weather is too wet or dry, it’s not as favorable for developing colorful pigments.).”
Vivid Northeast? How do they figure out when we were wet, humid, and hot? Per the National Weather Service, our area received over thirteen inches of rain in the last sixty days, which is 51 to 75 percent above average. And, the year-to-date total of forty-six inches was eleven inches more than average, or 26 to 50 percent above the norm. Maybe we fall in the “mixed predictions” of the Old Farmer’s Almanac leaf color category, feeling cheated out of the glories of summer. Most of us, especially those without central air, spent the summer trying to stay ahead of the mold. The Almanac said, “some sources report that the vivid foliage may come a little later than usual, especially up north, due to a late start to spring and leaf-out.” Maybe there’s hope that a colorful fall will come despite the early drop of mostly brown stressed leaves.
Back to the beautiful leaf that dropped in front of my feet on the first day of fall, showing scars of its life lived. The thing is, there’s beauty in the marks on the maple leaf. Of a life lived. An outward colorful, holy display of the season endured. And despite it all, it’s done its job. The leaves have undoubtedly absorbed enough nutrients to nourish roots to ensure a fresh new start for the tree in the growing season ahead. Because Mother Nature is resilient, and so are we. Here’s to a new season. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com and your favorite Podcast App.