Beyond Serotinal

As we near the Autumnal equinox, I would like to make a brief and simplified mention of the fact that the reason deciduous tree leaves change color as day-length shortens, is a phenomenon called chlorophyll degradation, along with a struggle to cope with increased energy demands of the changing season. Now this should in no way reduce your amount of enjoyment of those colors, but we should be ever mindful that what we are enjoying is, in fact, the death of summer.

So while the trees do need a break from all that photosynthesizing, and possibly we need a break from all that summer gardening and canning – we can’t just drop our leaves and hibernate (sorry to mix metaphors here). Amphibians, reptiles, and some mammals have their forms of hibernation. Certain bugs leave their eggs in safe places (and the rest come into houses), and flowers pack their life force into perennial bulbs and tubers, and sacrifice their beauty once more.

Humans cope in other ways; 1) Some claim to love Autumn. I believe what they really mean is that they enjoy piling on sweaters to keep warm, drinking fattening yet comforting drinks like pumpkin lattes and hot chocolate, and getting their little sisters to make Hoover’s buttery chocolate chip cookies, in order to assuage their pain and sadness as the day length daily shortens and the air gets cooler in unpredictable increments and things around them are dying or sleeping a death-like sleep. 2) Some humans face this slow-death-like season squarely by sticking with their strong black coffee, going on a diet, and increase their exercise levels. Also they may begin wearing real shoes and socks again and carrying multiple layers everywhere, to warm up or cool down depending on what the capricious weather gods do that day. 3) Others of us cope by some bizarre combination of the above 2, which often means we are down about the lack of light and warmth (even though we know this means beautiful winter is on its way), and try to lift ourselves up by our own fattening cookies and drinks. While this seems on its surface to be somewhat counterproductive, it is at its core as well.

Have a lovely Autumn.