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Maple leaves
Maple leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The calendar says it’s officially fall and a simple drive around town reveals trees beginning to show their fall colors. Shades of yellow, orange, red, and dark purple are replacing the vibrant greens of summer and streams of tourists head for the mountains to soak in the beauty.

What’s next? Falling leaves fluttering to the ground. Piles to be raked (and played in) before being bagged up and hauled away. For some, fall brings precious memories of hayrides, pumpkin pie, hot cider, and bonfires. But what’s left when the leaves have fallen? Bare branches left stark against the skyline.

It’s a beautiful season of change … leading into a season of seeming barrenness.

As we’ve talked about earlier this year, trees use the green chlorophyll in their leaves to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into glucose (energy source for trees) and oxygen in a process called photosynthesis. When the days start to get shorter, trees begin to shut down their food-making factories and get ready for a season of rest where they will live off their stored food. As the bright green chlorophyll fades away, the other colors–that have been there all along–shine through.

Once the food-making factories are shut down, the tree doesn’t need them anymore and actually cuts it’s own leaves off. (See this interesting article I found about Why  Leaves Really Fall Off.) Trees naturally get rid of the unnecessary leaves that would only weigh them down over the winter.

Last year, Colorado had nice weather for much longer than usual and many trees didn’t shed their leaves as early as other years. Weeks and weeks went by with beautiful fall colors on display. Then came a mid-October snowstorm that dumped several inches of heavy, wet snow. The snow piled up on all those leaves and dragged branches toward the ground. Broken branches came down all over town and schools were closed because of power outages when branches took out power lines. It took weeks to clear all the sidewalks and months to clean up the mess.

All because the leaves hadn’t fallen.

Lessons for us? There are seasons to grow and bear fruit. And there are seasons to cut back on activity and shed excess responsibilities in preparation to conserve energy during the coming winter’s dormant season of rest.

What about you? Have you experienced fall seasons in your life? When you cut back on busy activities, what other colors were revealed? Do you enjoy fall or does it make you sad?

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