An ode to autumn’s beauty


Zain Jaffar

Only a short distance from our urban dwellings, there is no dearth of wildlife and nature. The brisk autumn breezes, coupled with the scent of fresh leaves in the air, relax one’s senses and instill a sense of tranquillity within them. Upon observing the vibrant leaves of many colours among vast forests composed of many different varieties of trees, one will be thrown into a deep trance. Fall is one of the most delightful times of the year, with stunning scenery and its festive moods. Notably, fall’s foliage is one of the things which makes it unique, and in retrospect defines fall.

Trees which shed leaves altogether in the fall time do so to survive. This is because temperatures that go below zero will freeze the leaves, and in turn destroy them and cause them to fall anyway. Additionally, when leaves are frozen or have snow on them, it will increase the weight of the leaf, so therefore it will apply more pressure on the tree branch. Due to the weight of the frozen leaves, the tree branches might break, which would be disastrous for the tree, especially in the wintertime.

The pretty colours which we flock to see during fall can be attributed to the tree saving up its nutrients. Leaves contain chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green pigment. Chlorophyll is crucial to leaves, as chlorophyll plays a vital role in photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, chlorophyll uses sunlight, carbon dioxide from the air, and water to create glucose, which the tree uses to sustain itself. Photosynthesis also gives off oxygen as a byproduct, and humans need oxygen to survive. 

Because photosynthesis needs sunlight, plants tend to photosynthesize more often in the summer. During the months leading up to winter, deciduous trees; or trees that lose their leaves annually, start preparing for winter. In winter there tends to be less direct sunlight, so plants and trees have fewer opportunities to photosynthesize. Because of this, there is no need for chlorophyll to be stored in the leaves of trees, and the trees do not want to lose their chlorophyll when their leaves fall as chlorophyll produces the tree’s food. Therefore, deciduous trees break down their leaves’ chlorophyll into nutrients and send those nutrients to be stored in the roots to be stored until the trees will be able to photosynthesize again.

Since the chlorophyll gives the leaves of the tree their green colours, once the chlorophyll is broken down by the tree, the leaves of the tree lose their green colour. What remains behind in the leaves are some natural chemicals that are left behind in the leaves. For example, anthocyanins are chemicals that create red and purple pigments. These chemicals create shades that we as humans see as fall colours.

There are many places within our vicinity where we can see fall colours, one of which is Bear Mountain State Park. Bear Mountain State Park has several dramatic overlooks and overlaps with the Appalachian Trail. The Hudson River also passes through Bear Mountain State Park. Bear Mountain State is huge, as it encompasses 5,205 square acres of land.

Another great place to see fall colours is the Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge, New Jersey. There are multiple campgrounds and a variety of trees. This park is slightly more secluded than the Bear Mountain National Park, and therefore it is a much more serene environment. This park is six and a half acres, which makes it into a nice little quaint getaway.

With this information in mind, I hope you enjoy your fall and have the chance to see some fall colours.