Leaves
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Sunday Morning Photograph September 26 2021: Autumn Has Arrived.

Leave nature alone and let it color your world.

The autumnal equinox officially started on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, at 3:20 in the afternoon Eastern Daylight Time in the northern hemisphere; and the signs of the arrival of the season are slowly appearing — including the changing of the colors of the leaves on deciduous trees.

Sunday Morning Photograph September 26 2021: Autumn Has Arrived.

Leaves
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Just outside the window of my bedroom is a sugar maple tree, which I planted myself when it was a mere sapling, as it is the official state tree of my birth state of New York. It usually changes color last in the season of all of the trees which surround my home; and I get to see the different colors in the various stages of the leaves of such trees as oak, dogwood, poplar, elm, Japanese maple, American Redbud, and red maple…

Leaves
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…but no photograph can accurate depict the brilliant yellows of this particular sugar maple, which almost appear to illuminate intensely when bright sunshine is cast down upon the leaves as the chlorophyll — which is the green pigment that is found in leaves — breaks down as the days get shorter.

Leaves
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

The changing of the colors of leaves lasts for only a short period of time. “The timing of color changes and the onset of falling leaves is primarily regulated by the calendar as nights become longer”, according to this article from the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture of the United States. “None of the other environmental influences — such as temperature, rainfall, food supply — are as unvarying as the steadily increasing length of night during autumn. As days grow shorter, and nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in the leaf begin to paint the landscape with Nature’s autumn palette.”

Many of the greater than 100 National Scenic Byways of the Forest Service were planned with autumn color in mind, if you are seeking to marvel at the colors of the foliage. Almost every one of the byways offers a beautiful and colorful drive sometime during the autumn.

Leaves
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Final Boarding Call

Unfortunately, predicting the optimum time when foliage changes color during autumn can be difficult to do — especially as weather, the pigments of leaves, elevation of topography, and the length of night are only three of a number of inconsistent factors which determine when and how leaves change colors — but it generally starts sometime in late September in New England and moves southward as it reaches the Great Smoky Mountains by early November; and it also appears about this time in the higher elevations of the mountains of the western United States.

This prediction map from SmokyMountains.com helps you forecast when you can expect the color-changing leaves in your area at the moment:

Fall foliage prediction map for 2021

Being in the right place at the right time to see the best colors does take some luck — but if you happen to live among a variety of trees throughout the year, you will be treated to an annual display provided by the palette of a plethora of pleasing pigments.

Regardless, I hope you experience the best colors which nature has to offer during this special time of year.

All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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