Annie's "Fall Signs & Symbols" Page
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest,
and cold and heat, and summer and winter,
and day and night shall not cease.
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"The green color of forest, field, and garden is caused by leaves. They are the dress of trees and other plants. They are far more important than mere dress, however. The foods by which the plant lives and grows are made in the leaves. All the food eaten by human beings and other animals can be traced back to plants and the green leaf. Even our bacon and eggs start with plants, for pigs and chickens live on plant food. Without green leaves there would be no animal life on Earth.
"In the autumn, leaves turn from green to brilliant shades of scarlet, gold, orange, and purple. Then they finally fall to the ground. It is not a season of dying: the tree or shrub is preparing for winter.
In late summer, as the growing period slows down, a corky layer of cells forms at the base of the leafstalk where it joins the stem. This corky layer is called the separation layer. It does not pass through the woody fibers that connect the leafstalk with the stem. These fibers hold the leaf in place until frost or wind tears it free. After the leaf has fallen, the scar where it was attached to the stem is sealed and protected by the separation layer.
As the separation layer forms, the manufacture of food materials within the leaves slows down. The cells and veins in the leaf become clogged. No more chlorophyll is produced, and the green color disappears. Other colors were present in the leaf, but they were hidden by the stronger green. Now they appear in all their splendor.
All leaves contain yellow pigments called carotene and xanthophyll. The yellow pigments are formed in the protoplasm of the leaf cells. The reds and purples are due to pigments called anthocyanins. They are formed in cell sap that is rich in sugar. Sugar maples, oaks, and sumacs have the most brilliant scarlet and purple colors. To develop such high color they must be exposed to the sunlight. Sugar maples that are heavily shaded by larger trees do not become red and show only yellow coloring.
Frost is usually given credit for autumn color, but actually a particular temperature has little effect on it. A combination of favorable weather conditions is required. Red pigments are formed in the sunlight in leaves that have stored sugar. Cloudy, rainy weather or a very hot, dry summer prevents the pigments from developing. If warm days are followed by warm nights the sugars drain out of the leaves and into the woody portions of the plant. Ideal conditions are bright, sunny days followed by cool nights.
Frost is chiefly responsible for freeing the leaves from the twigs. On a cold, frosty night ice crystals form in the separation layer and break the woody fibers that hold the leaf in place. Then when the ice melts in the morning sun, the leaves flutter in a gold and scarlet shower to the ground. In some oaks the separation layer does not develop fully, and the leaves remain on the tree all winter.
The wise gardener does not burn fallen leaves but adds them to the compost pile. Rotted leaves (leaf mold) are a valuable soil conditioner."
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"Late spring, when leaves are fresh and green, is the time to start a leaf collection. Keep the leaves fresh and uncrushed as you collect them. Spread them carefully between two or three layers of newspaper on a flat surface. Then place books on the top layer of paper and put something heavy on the books. Change the papers every day for the first four days, then leave the leaves pressed, undisturbed, for another week. Next, remove them and mount them carefully with clear tape on heavy paper.
Leaf prints are less work to prepare than a pressed and mounted collection. A collection of spatter prints is interesting and easy to make. A bottle of ink, an old toothbrush, a piece of wire screening, and sheets of white paper are needed. Place a fresh leaf on the paper and pin it down flat. Then dip the toothbrush into the ink bottle, letting the excess ink drain off. Hold the wire screen over the paper and rub the bristles over it, working from side to side and from top to bottom. Draw the bristles toward you so the ink will spatter away from you. When the ink is dry remove the leaf. The imprint will remain.
For leaf blueprints use blueprint paper, a piece of window glass, and a basin filled with clear water. Working in dim light, lay the leaf on the treated side of the blueprint paper and cover with the window glass. Expose it to sunlight until the paper turns dark blue. Remove the glass and the leaf and quickly wash the paper in the basin of water until the color "sets." Dry the paper on a smooth, flat surface so it will not curl. The impression of the leaf will be white or pale blue on a darker blue background.
A printer's ink print shows the veins as well as the outline of the leaf. Needed materials are a tube of printer's ink, a sheet of window glass, two rubber rollers, and several sheets of paper. Spread a thin film of ink over the glass with one of the rollers. Place a leaf, underside down, on the inked glass. Cover it with a sheet of paper. Run the second (clean) roller over the paper several times. Now the leaf is thoroughly inked on its underside. Discard the inky paper and place the leaf, inked side down, on clean paper. Cover with a sheet of clean paper, and again work the clean roller over the paper. Finally remove the top paper and the leaf. Let the finished print dry.
A plaster cast may be made by putting a leaf in a greased saucer and covering it with plaster of Paris. After the plaster has set, the leaf may be removed. Its imprint in the plaster may then be painted and trimmed to the outline of the leaf."
Related Link: Collecting and Saving Fall Leaves
"Virtually every living thing is affected by the seasons. Farmers plant and harvest their crops in the warm months and mend fences and tend their livestock and machinery in the winter. As the seasons change, people wear heavier or lighter clothing and eat different foods.
The seasons are still known by the names that dimly reveal primitive peoples' feelings about them. Winter is an old Germanic word meaning "time of water"--of rain and snow. Spring refers to the springing forth of living things. The original meanings of summer and autumn are lost. People in the United States, however, generally call autumn by its alternative name, fall, from "fall of the leaf."
Before the calendar, people looked to the sky for signs that a new season was approaching. Such knowledge was vital to determine planting and harvesting times. In the Northern Hemisphere, for example, the bright star Regulus climbing above the eastern horizon signals that spring is at hand. Blood-red Antares heralds the approach of summer. The square of Pegasus means that autumn is near, and the appearance of Aldebaran is a sure sign of winter.
The seasons have a profound effect on plant and animal life. In spring, plants and trees sprout new leaves, flowers appear, birds migrate to warmer regions, and many animals emerge from hibernation. With summer, the lengthy hours of sunshine provide energy for photosynthesis and stimulate growth in plants and animals alike. In autumn, the final harvesting is done, many plants shed their leaves, birds migrate to warmer regions, and nearly all furry creatures grow new, thick coats. With winter, animals hibernate or construct warm, protected burrows; seeds have hard coats to keep out the cold; and buds are wrapped in wax as protection against ice."
"On Halloween night, porches are lit with the orange glow of jack-o'-lanterns--carved pumpkins that grin, grimace, and scowl by the light of a flickering candle within their walls. The pumpkin is a versatile fruit commonly grown in North America, Great Britain, and Continental Europe for human food and livestock feed. In the United States and Canada it is a traditional holiday pie filling. It is also served as a vegetable and used in puddings and soups.
Pumpkins are large, orange, and generally round with a smooth, furrowed rind. The plant has rough, heart-shaped leaves and large yellow flowers. The names pumpkin and squash are applied inconsistently to certain varieties of the genus Cucurbita.The pumpkin comes most commonly from varieties of Cucurbita pepo, C. mixta, C. moschata, and C. maxima."
"Varieties of the pumpkin and squash family grown chiefly for their ornamental fruits are called gourds. The hard-shelled fruits grow in many shapes and sizes. In pioneer days American settlers cleaned and dried the gourd shells and used them for cups, bottles, water jugs, and other utensils. Now gourds are used mainly in winter arrangements with other dried plant material.
The gourd is an annual trailing vine that is sticky, hairy, and musk scented. The leaves are roundish and up to a foot (0.3 meter) across. The vine is fast growing and makes a good cover for the ground or a fence. The flowers may be either white or yellow, depending on the variety. They wither in the sun. In some countries the fruit is eaten as a vegetable.
vines of the Luffa
genus also are called gourds. The vegetable sponge, or
dishcloth gourd, has a fibrous interior that can be dried
and used as a sponge. The wax gourd, or Chinese
watermelon Benincasa hispida,
is native to tropical Asia."
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