As I look at a leaf with its veins fanning out across its undersurface, I feel like I’m flying over a landscape. The cool, green chlorophyll along the main ridge lines fades into valleys parched with warm yellows and browns. The leaves on the deciduous trees, such as this Oregon ash, are transforming.
They have fulfilled their role. They created food and energy for the tree and shade for animals to keep cool in the summer. They provided forage for hungry insects and made music as the wind blew across their bodies.
Now their function is shifting as they fall. They form a cozy blanket on the ground to protect the tree’s root system and provide an insulative home for insects that overwinter in the soil. Many animals forage under this protective layer as it decays, recycling nutrients back into the soil.
I love this metamorphosis. They curl and twist in unique and interesting shapes. Their music becomes rustling and crisp. They release a magical apothecary of aromas, a sigh of gratitude upon the arrival of the first rains of fall.
Nature is an inexhaustible source of wonder. Hope to see you out there.