Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Leaves

Weather: Morning temperatures generally just above freezing, last rain 10/12/12; 11:04 hours of daylight today.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid perpetual roses.

Beyond the walls and fences: Leatherleaf globemallow, goat’s head, chamisa, áñil del muerto, golden hairy asters.

In my yard: California poppies, larkspur, chrysanthemums.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia, petunias.

Animal sightings: Goldfinches and other small brown birds, geckos, bumble bees, other bees, hornets, harvester and small black ants.

Weekly update: As autumns go, this one has been orderly. When sun angles changed and with them temperatures, annuals and perennials went to send. Then, two weeks ago morning temperatures fell below freezing, killing off all but the most protected annuals and destroying leaves on the imported trees.

Since, the natives and colonized trees and shrubs have been preparing for winter. They slowed their production of chlorophyll. The green drained from the leaves, leaving the hidden pigments. From a distance, the colors are solid.

But sometimes, when the light is right, you can see what has happened, can see the leaves are not as solid as they were.

It isn’t just the red pigments. It’s the more common yellows as well. From a distance, like the far cottonwoods, they look the same. Then, when the light is right, you can see the yellow is really more chartreuse where the green hasn’t quite disappeared.

It isn’t just the trees and shrubs. The pink primroses have been turning red

and the Maximilian sunflowers have been turning yellow.

The animals are responding as well. There don’t seem to many fruit eating birds in this area; it took weeks for the sour cherries to disappear, and the sandcherries and Virginia creeper simply desiccated.

This week, the seed eating goldfinches returned to the Maxes. I can only see them through the window or from a distance. As soon as I’m detected, they rise, maybe a dozen, from within the toppled remains.

The leaves eventually will drop and blow away, or dry, shrivel and be worn away by winter winds. The finches will remain somewhere, showing up in the chocolate flowers after they’ve finished harvesting the sunflowers with some kind of territorial agreement with the resident chickadees.

Photographs: All taken 16 October 2012.
1. Cottonwoods through the leaves of the lilacs.

2. Virginia creeper berries.

3. Sandcherry leaves.

4. Sandcherry leaves in the sun.

5. Lilac leaves.

6. Pink evening primrose leaves.

7. Maximilian sunflower leaves.

8. Goldfinch on a Maximilian sunflower seed head.

9. Catalpa leaves.

10. Tansy flowers turning brown around the edges.

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